02/05/2015 06:42 EST | Updated 04/07/2015 05:59 EDT

Alberta teachers president says no to reopening contracts, no to rollbacks

EDMONTON - The president of the Alberta Teacher’s Association says it will not reopen its contract with the province, nor will teachers accept rollbacks.

Mark Ramsankar made the comments to delegates at the North Central Teachers Conference in Edmonton on Thursday morning.

Ramsankar was responding to comments from Alberta Premier Jim Prentice that the government will be looking to the public sector for help in shouldering a $7 billion dollar deficit.

He says teachers expect the PC government to honour the contract it legislated — a four-year deal with zero wage increase for three years, a two per cent increase this year and a one per cent lump-sum payment this year.

Ramsankar says to suggest that teachers need to do more to balance the budget is "ridiculous."

He says the government wants the public sector to do more, yet it's not asking businesses and corporations to do their part.

“Back in 2000, when they lowered corporate tax, had they kept the structures in place this government would have recouped more than $18 billion dollars.”

He doesn’t buy the finance minister’s reasoning about Alberta having the lowest tax regime in the country and the highest public sector costs.

“Go to a fair and equitable tax regime, get rid of the flat tax and put in place a fair, progressive tax system,” said Ramsankar.

Prentice has said he is looking at changes to personal income tax and capital projects. But he has ruled out a provincial sales tax and said corporate taxes and oil royalties won't be touched.

Alberta Health Services announced Thursday that it is freezing salaries and holding the line on union raises to help the province cope with billions of dollars in lost revenue due to low oil prices.