The majority of Nova Scotia's 9,300 public school teachers have voted to accept a new collective agreement that gives them a 7.5 per cent raise over three years and will cost taxpayers an extra $52 million by the final year.
The Nova Scotia Teachers Union said in a statement Thursday night that 73 per cent of its teachers had voted 92 per cent in favour of the three-year deal.
"Our members have voted overwhelmingly in favour of this agreement," Shelley Morse, the president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, said in a statement.
"The diligent work of the bargaining team and this vote result indicate it’s a fair and reasonable contract for public school teachers in the province."
The agreement gives public school teachers a 7.5 per cent salary increase over three years. When compounded, that amounts to a 7.7 per cent raise. Substitute teachers will qualify for full teacher pay sooner.
The yearly raises — two per cent in the first year, 2.5 per cent in the second and three per cent in the third — fit the pattern established in recent settlements with other Nova Scotia public sector workers in the Department of Health and Wellness and at the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation.
"I am pleased the teachers have approved this agreement," Ramona Jennex, the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, said in a statement.
"This agreement is fair to teachers, allows the province to live within its means, and is in the best interest of public education."
The agreement also includes a Letter of Commitment that maintains existing class sizes for Grades Primary to 3 for the duration of the collective agreement.
"Class size and composition continues to be a daunting issue for our members," said Morse.
"We are hopeful class caps for other grades will come into effect soon."
Teacher salaries cost the Nova Scotia government $677 million a year.
This settlement will see that yearly cost rise by $13 million in the first year, then an additional $17 million in the second year and $21 million by July 31, 2015 when the agreement expires.
According to the Nova Scotia Teachers Union website, the average salary for a starting teacher is $48,000 annually, up to $85,000.