B.C. government unions to get ‘modest’ raises

Economic growth exceeds forecast, triggers extra pay for 300,000 teachers, health care and social services staff in February

Most unionized provincial employees in health, education and other jobs will get an extra raise of just under one half of one per cent in February.

About 80 per cent of B.C. public sector unions have signed employment contracts under the province’s “economic stability mandate.” That gives them raises of 5.5 per cent over five years, plus a share of economic growth in each year it exceeds the independent forecast used in the provincial budget.

Statistics Canada has finalized the growth of the B.C. economy at 3.2 per cent for 2014, substantially more than the finance ministry’s independent forecast council estimate of 2.3 per cent. That triggers the contract provision to increase pay for provincial employees by 0.45 per cent starting in February.

In dollar terms, the finance ministry calculates that a grade one medical technologist will see an increase of $300 a year, or $970 over the rest of the contract term. A teacher will get $346 a year, and an education assistant gets $109 a year.

[List of affected unions here.]

Finance Minister Mike de Jong said the growth of gross domestic product reflects a strong year for exports and some employment growth in 2014. Business investment was also up 5.4 per cent last year, and there was a 3.5 per cent increase in household consumption spending province-wide.

The outlook for the current year does not look as good for additional increases, he said, but the agreements are “one way” and there are no reductions for employees if the economy under-performs. Over the past 14 years, the B.C. economy has outperformed forecasts about half the time.

The province and its agencies such as universities and Crown corporations employ 387,000 people, of which about 313,000 are unionized. About 20 per cent of those employees have not yet settled agreements under the economic stability mandate, with the largest group being the 42,000-member B.C. Nurses’ Union.

About 10,000 staff at University of B.C., Simon Fraser and University of Victoria have also not signed new agreements.

 

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