Your editorial “Teacher Salaries Squeeze BSD Budget” (Feb. 19) is way off base in its attempt to paint teachers’ salaries as being responsible for “most of the difficulties facing school divisions across the province.”
It is simply wrong to blame our salaries as the principal driver of costs when the rate of inflation in Manitoba was 2.3 per cent in 2013, the highest in Canada. For most months during 2012 and 2013, average weekly earnings in Manitoba increased by at least two per cent.
Nothing ever remains the same in a market-based economy, and price and wage increases are inevitable over time. Government at all levels, including school divisions, demonstrate prudence when they take inflation and expected wage increases into account in the budgeting process.
Furthermore, it is erroneous to suggest that teachers’ salaries have been pushed into the “stratosphere.” Teachers require a minimum of five years of university training and their salaries benchmark with other professional groups in the public sector, such as nurses, engineers, police officers and firefighters.
Finally, it is completely misleading to suggest that “school divisions are at the mercy of arbitrators when it comes to teachers’ salaries.” The fact is that arbitration has been rarely used to determine teachers’ salaries, especially over the past 15 years, and the vast majority of settlements in Manitoba are reached through voluntary agreement between local teachers’ associations and school divisions.
The loss of 11 teaching positions certainly means reducing the strength of some of the programs that the BSD has admirably invested in up to this point. Your readers would be better served with an analysis of how the proposed budget would affect students the division had planned to benefit with these programs.
Uninformed hyperbole regarding the salaries teachers earn for doing their job is frankly neither relevant nor helpful.
Paul Olson, president
Manitoba Teachers’ Society
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 26, 2014