In his judgment, Jones wrote that there were “no changes in wage rates in the third year of the current collective agreement, particularly given the general economic conditions prevailing in the province, the current comparative continuity and stability of nurses` employment, and the absence of other relevant public sector comparisons that would indicate either an increase or a decrease in wages.” The ADF had requested a 3 per cent increase and the employer was ordered by the provincial government to demand a 3 per cent salary. A.A. members did not receive an increase in the first or second year of the contract. In my view, it would not be acceptable, in the public or community interest, for teachers to receive a pay increase given the current economic circumstances in the province, including the high unemployment rate, the absence of comparable collective agreements that contain wage increases, and the non-monetary provisions that teachers have received in the current collective agreement. Mr. Jones assured that “the overall poor state of Alberta`s economy is the most convincing factor, and it weighs heavily against an increase in wage rates for nurses at that time,” and Mr. Jones noted that no increase was warranted in the third year of the collective agreement. The real salary of teachers has lost at least 5.5% of inflation for the year 2017/2020 (7.5% if the decrease of 0.5% per year is not included). The narrowest comparison groups, the other five major public sector collective agreements in Alberta[] received virtually all wage increases for 2012-17, when the ATA made wage adjustments of 0% for all but one year. The other five public sector collective agreements increased by 0% in the first two years of their current three-year contracts, leaving negotiation last year and now arbitration. Teachers left the two years of their collective agreement to reconcile interests. …

While the ADF [United Nurses of Alberta] reports some growth in real GDP and GDP per capita and some increase in the Alberta Weekly Earnings Index, which would indicate some recovery from the 2015-16 recession, there is overwhelming evidence that the provincial economy has not yet fully recovered from the recession and is likely to do so only some time after the end of the current collective agreement. After starting to recover a little in 2018, Alberta almost plunged back into recession in early 2019…. The unemployment rate in the province remains very high, both historically and relative to the rest of Canada, and will continue for the foreseeable future.

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