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Alberta provincial court judges win $30K pay hike

Alberta's provincial court judges are getting a pay raise.

Commission finds workload increased while compensation fell behind

Alberta's provincial court judges are getting a pay raise.

The NDP government has accepted the recommendations of an independent compensation commission, which concluded the judges are working harder and their pay was falling behind their counterparts in Ontario.

Provincial court judges now make about $264,000 a year.

The commission recommended to the government that the judges get retroactive raises for the past two years and wage hikes for the next two years as well.

Combined, those hikes will boost judge's pay to almost $294,000 annually starting next April.

Although government revenues are down because of the drop in world oil prices, the commission found the decline in revenues shouldn't outweigh other factors — including an increasing workload for judges and the fact that typically, their pay is linked with what judges make in Ontario.

Wildrose Party finance critic Derek Fildebrandt is critical of the pay hike.  

"When your first negotiations, or your first labour agreement, that you sign as a government is for such a large pay increase, it sets a potentially dangerous precedent when you starting dealing with more expensive contracts, when you get into AUPE and, you know, similar negotiations," he said.

Alberta Justice spokesman Scott Sehested said in an email to CBC News that the Judicial Compensation Commission process is not a negotiation.

"In regards to government's reasons for accepting the recommendations, Alberta, like all other provinces, must follow the process mandated by the Supreme Court of Canada in setting judicial compensation. Accordingly, Alberta has gone through this process and as a result is implementing the recommendations," he said.

The vesting period for provincial court judicial pensions will also be reduced from five years to two years.

However, the commission did reject a bid by the judges for more vacation time.

The judges wanted to increase their annual leave from six weeks to eight weeks.

The commission rejected that bid, noting that the government believed it would have to appoint more judges to cover for the additional leave time and there was a significant cost to granting more weeks of vacation.

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