FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government signed a collective agreement today with the New Brunswick Teachers’ Federation.

The agreement covers nearly 8,000 teachers, supply teachers, vice-principals and principals.

“I thank the two negotiating teams for reaching this agreement,” said Treasury Board President Roger Melanson. “This historic agreement will help us achieve the goals of our 10-year education plans.”

The agreement features investments to support classroom composition, including the addition of 250 school-based teachers over the next two years. These teachers will be working in the areas of methods and resource, guidance, literacy, numeracy, positive mental health support, and assisting with gifted and talented students.

The five-year agreement also includes a research project that will increase the hours of instruction for some students in kindergarten through Grade 2. Starting in September 2018, 17 schools will increase instructional time for those students by one hour per day. This time, along with additional resources, will be used to provide greater opportunities for students to reach the expected learning outcomes with a focus on literacy, numeracy, physical education, art and music. This is a joint initiative between the federation and the government. It will run for three years, and will be evaluated by independent experts.

The agreement includes annual wage increases of one per cent, in keeping with increases provided to other groups of union and non-union employees.

The previous collective agreement expired Feb. 29, 2016.

Since October 2014 the provincial government has reached collective agreements with 23 bargaining groups.