03/04/2016 06:28 EST | Updated 03/04/2016 06:59 EST

Alberta Teachers' Salaries Are Too High: Taxpayers Federation

Empty elementary school classroom
Alyson Aliano via Getty Images
Empty elementary school classroom

Teachers in Alberta need to have their salaries slashed to help the province cope with its economic downturn, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF).

“The province is staring down a potential $10.4 billion deficit. Teachers should not be exempt from necessary spending reductions," said CTF Alberta director Paige MacPherson in a release Thursday.

The provincial government is preparing to discuss new contracts for teachers throughout the month. Education Minister David Eggen says affordability will be at the forefront of negotiations, given the province's current economic situation.

"The negotiations that I'm entering into will probably set the tone for many other public-service negotiations that will take place in the coming weeks and months and years," Eggen told CBC News, adding that he feels the "full weight" of the financial crisis.

Meawhile, the Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA) hopes to see rising salaries this year.

“We recognize the economic climate that Alberta’s in. You’d have to live under a rock not know it.

"But make no mistake about it — teachers have their own economic reality that we’ve just come from, and that is not to be ignored either,” association president Mark Ramsankar said Thursday, according to the Edmonton Journal.

“We recognize the economic climate that Alberta’s in. You’d have to live under a rock not know it."

“If the teachers union asked for a raise now, the degree to which they would be out of touch is almost incomprehensible,” the CTF's MacPherson said.

The federation noted that wages for teachers in Alberta are 20 per cent higher than the national average, and that teachers across the country are some of the most well-paid in the world.

Teachers' current salary contracts expire on Aug. 31.

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