The United Conservative government wants to delay wage talks for tens of thousands of teachers, nurses and government workers until the end of October under a new bill introduced in the legislature Thursday.
Finance Minister Travis Toews says the Public Sector Arbitration Deferral Act doesn’t break public sector contracts, but seeks a delay in the process until the government receives a report on Alberta’s finances.
The NDP Official Opposition says Toews is breaking the law by not honouring collective agreements.
Bills usually pass first reading with the unanimous consent of MLAs, but the NDP forced a vote on Bill 9 because they believe it is illegal.
At least one union is contemplating legal action over the bill, but Toews told reporters the government has obtained a legal opinion.
“We believe we have a defensible path forward,” he said.
Contracts for AUPE and the United Nurses of Alberta have zero wage increases in the first two years of a three-year contract with a provision for wage talks in the final year.
The Alberta Teachers’ Association has a provision for wage talks to go to an arbitrator by the end of September.