Bill 5 Threatens Teachers' Privacy

Alberta’s Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley has introduced a bill that would allow school boards to post any or all teachers’ names along with their salaries and benefits. The information could appear on a public website accessible to anyone, be published in a newspaper, posted in schools, distributed to parents or provided in any other form entirely at the discretion of the school board.

Bill 5, the Public Sector Compensation Transparency Act, expands the so-called “sunshine lists,” which currently disclose the names and salaries of public employees earning more than $104,754, to sweep up employees of all government agencies, boards and commissions as well as education bodies and municipalities.

In most cases, Bill 5 would only force salary disclosure by name for employees receiving total compensation over $125,000, but teachers are treated differently. The bill proposes no minimum salary threshold for teachers or other school jurisdiction employees. Instead, the bill empowers school boards to write their own rules, which would apply regardless of any privacy laws or policies currently in place.

ATA President Mark Ramsankar says Bill 5 is misguided, discriminatory and unnecessary.

“The government says it wants to put the focus on higher-income earners and senior managers’ salaries, yet this proposed law will actually leave front-line workers including teachers, aids, secretaries and custodians vulnerable to having their private information made public,” said Ramsankar. “While enabling the publication of teacher names and salaries, the law would still allow school boards, as well as private school and charter authorities, to avoid disclosing whatever information they want hidden from public view.”

Ramsankar is calling for basic fairness, asking the government to amend Bill 5 to ensure that the minimum threshold for salary disclosure is the same for teachers as it is for doctors, nurses, social workers and all other public employees affected by the bill. He points out that teacher collective agreements are already public and so provide all the transparency and accountability necessary.

Bill 5 may be passed as early as next week. Teachers should expect better from this government and are encouraged to contact their MLA or Minister Ganley immediately to express their concerns with this legislation. Contact information can be found using the link