Ontario’s teachers have been at odds with the minority Liberal government ever since a controversial piece of legislation was introduced in September that dictates the terms of their contracts and restricts their ability to strike.
Elementary school teachers are poised to start one-day walkouts next week, while their high school counterparts will escalate job action by withdrawing voluntary services and extra-curricular activities. Education Minister Laurel Broten has the power to stop the strike action – and will likely do so after the bargaining deadline of Dec. 31 – but cannot force teachers to resume voluntary activities like clubs and coaching.
For teachers, there are substantive issues at play, including cuts to their sick days and movement up the salary grid for young teachers.
This analysis of teacher compensation is based on the contract between the province and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Association at the Toronto District School Board. Each board in the province has slightly different terms.
Annual starting salary for a new teacher at lowest and highest pay rates: $45,709, $55,404
Salary for a teacher with more than 10 years of service at the lowest and highest pay rates: $76,021, $94,707
(Teachers can reach the top pay scale 10 years after starting their careers. Within each pay scale there are four groups, which are based on teachers’ education and extra training, as well as years of experience. The pay raises based on years of teaching have taken effect automatically on Sept. 1. In Bill 115, the government has imposed a delay to Feb. 1 and asked teachers to also take three unpaid days.)
Teachers are credited for 20 sick days per year. If they don’t use them all, the remainder can be banked indefinitely until retirement and cashed out up to a maximum of half a year’s pay. Bill 115 reduces allowed sick days to 10 per year and eliminates the ability to bank unused days until retirement.
Teachers have an extended health-care plan that is 100-per-cent funded by the employer and dental plan funded 94 per cent by the employer. They also have group life insurance coverage, with the first $35,000 of coverage paid by the board and any additional coverage paid by the teacher.
Annual pension contributions for teachers equal 10.8 per cent of pay up to $50,100 a year and then 12.4 per cent of any pay above $50,100. A teacher earning $75,000 in 2012 will contribute $8,498 to her pension plan, while a teacher earning $51,000 will contribute $5,522 to his pension.
Teachers are eligible to retire with a full pension at age 65 or when their years of work plus their age equals 85.
Teachers receive a pension based on their years of service and their best five years’ average salary. A teacher who retires with a full pension, worked for 32 years and earned a best-five-years average salary of $60,000 would have a basic pension of $38,400. A teacher earning $90,000 a year with 32 years of service would have an annual pension of $57,600. The pension amounts are reduced once teachers are old enough to begin collecting CPP payments because the teachers’ pension plan is designed to be integrated with CPP.