March 25, 2002

The following statement was issued today by Judy Foote, Minister of Education. It was also read in the House of Assembly:

On Friday, March 22 the members of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association ratified a collective agreement that provides improved benefits for teachers and students.

This new agreement has several components that demonstrate government's ongoing support of a quality education system in the province. It offers essential conditions necessary for teachers to continue their important role in the education and development of the youth of Newfoundland and Labrador.

This province has the shortest school year in the country. We must ensure that our students have every advantage that will allow them to be competitive nationally and globally. Therefore, the school year will increase by five days to 195, and teachers will be compensated for this additional instructional time. Additionally, the length of the school day for grades one to three will be standardized across the province to five hours beginning in September 2002. The retention of 218 teachers in the system despite the decline of 7,000 students over the past two years and an anticipated decline in excess of 3,000 this September, continues to permit one of the best teacher/pupil ratios in Canada.

In recent years school boards have experienced challenges in attracting teachers to administrative positions in schools. Enhancements in allowances for principals and vice principals will encourage more teachers to aspire to these important roles. As well, the increase in starting salaries for new teachers should attract more young people to the profession thereby assisting school boards in their recruitment efforts.

This government recognizes the importance of providing teachers with opportunities to become more familiar with new teaching strategies and the content of new courses and programs which are introduced in our schools. This new agreement will ensure every teacher is provided with three days each year to engage in professional development and in-service activities as recommended in the report of the Ministerial Panel on Educational Delivery in the Classroom, released in 2000. These initiatives are supported by the $4.4 million in the recent budget for professional development.

Education will always remain a priority for this government. We continue to support an education system that encourages the best possible education for the youth of this province. The 15 per cent increase combined with the other benefits outlined in this agreement are necessary changes for our teachers. This parallels the increments given to other public servants.

The education of our youth is their key to achieving personal success and becoming full participants in the continued development of this province. I join with my colleagues to congratulate the members of both negotiating teams in reaching an agreement that provides benefits for teachers while improving the educational opportunities of our students.  I look forward to continuing our work with the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association and all stakeholders involved in the education of our province.

2002 03 25                         2:00 p.m.

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