The City of Yellowknife says key aspects of the deal it signed to end a strike and lockout last month will cost the municipality an extra $500,000.
The agreement with the Public Service Alliance of Canada and Union of Northern Workers, which came in the strike’s sixth week, included annual pay increases of three percent, then 2.75 percent.
In a statement to Cabin Radio late last week, the city said those increases – the first backdated to January 2022, and the second backdated to January 2023 – would cost an extra $250,000 to cover in total.
The March agreement also included one-off payments to staff of up to $1,800.
The city says those payments will cost a further $258,000, meaning the salary increases and one-off payouts will together total $508,000.
In recent years, the city’s budget for wages and benefits has been in the region of $30 million annually.
For months, the city attempted to limit salary increases in the new collective agreement to two percent annually, saying it was obliged to balance its budget.
“That means expenses have to equal revenues. Spending more means the city either needs to increase revenues by raising property taxes and fees or cutting programs and services,” an example city statement read in mid-February. How the extra sum agreed in March will be raised is not yet clear.
City Hall was responding to questions originally filed on March 21. A spokesperson said short-staffing had contributed to a delay in producing the figures.
The amount of money the city did not spend by virtue of the strike and lockout, such as salaries that were not paid as usual, remains unclear.
“The city is not able to provide an estimate of any savings that might have arisen from wages not paid during the labour disruption, as a final accounting of additional costs incurred during the event is not yet available,” spokesperson Sarah Sibley said by email.
Sibley added that the salary increases will also have an impact on the city’s future finances.
“The compounded impact of the increases on future years will be factored into future budgets, starting with Budget 2024, which is currently being developed,” she wrote.