Nova Scotia Overview

Teachers Union

What is the Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU)?

In 1895, the Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) was founded. The NSTU is the unified voice for the advocacy
and support of all its members.


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Mission of NSTU

The mission of the NSTU is to promote and advance
the teaching profession and quality public education.

Members of the NSTU

The NSTU represents more than 10,000 teachers, including public school teachers, teachers who work for the Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority and Reserve Members such as supply or substitute teachers. Visit here to read more about the different categories of membership. (Read More 1)

Beliefs of the NSTU

The NSTU serves as the primary advocate of its members by protecting and enhancing salary and benefits, improving working conditions, supporting personal well-being, keeping members informed and promoting opportunities to participate.

The NSTU is committed to leadership in educational change by maintaining and promoting excellence in teaching, encouraging lifelong learning, influencing educational trends through research and evaluation and distributing information.

The NSTU promotes and enhances public education for all students by supporting a safe and healthy learning environment, advancing the profession, advocating social justice and unionism, working with other organizations and communicating its beliefs in order to affect public opinion and policy.

Code of Ethics of the NSTU

Visit here to read the code of ethics of NSTU. (Read More 2)

Structure of the NSTU

The NSTU is a statutory Union which means that its foundational structure, including its membership, mandate and powers, are outlined in legislation.

The Teaching Profession Act establishes the NSTU as a body corporate and codifies items such as the Union’s mandate and powers.  Visit here to view this Act. (Read More 3)

The Teachers’ Collective Bargaining Act states that the Union will be the only one to bargain for the teachers with the employer and represent teachers in any matters related to their terms and conditions of employment.  Visit here to view this Act. (Read More 4)

The NSTU outlines its structure more thoroughly through its constitution, policy and operational procedures.

  • The NSTU structure includes NSTU Representatives at the school/worksite level, Local Unions who support the NSTU Representatives, Regional Representative Councils who support the Locals in regional contract matters, as well as Provincial Committees and Professional Associations that support particular areas of professional interest.
  • The Council, which usually meets annually is the supreme governing body of the Union and is made up of Provincial Executive members and members elected from each Local Union in the province. Between council meetings, the NSTU is run by the 23-member Provincial Executive, which includes a full-time president. All of the positions on the Provincial Executive, as well as the NSTU President are elected. The NSTU also has a central office where the Executive Director and other full-time staff support the policies, programs and services of the Union. (See Source 1)

The NSTU Guidelines & Operational Procedures

These are available in Page Flip Digital format or Adobe PDF or by clicking here. (Read More 5)  The Guidelines cover Constitution and Policy.  The by-laws of NSTU can be found under the Constitution.  Such topics as Governance; Curriculum; Economic Welfare and Working Conditions; Government; and Professional Development are covered under Policy.   Here is a sample from the Guidelines under Curriculum on Multiculturalism.

Sample Section From Guidelines

Schools of Nova Scotia reflect a pluralistic, multi-ethnic society, which influences the teaching/learning styles represented in our schools.  The values and behaviour patterns present and presented in our schools differ among cultural groups.  Citizens in a democratic society need ethnic and cultural literacy (adequate understanding of ethnic groups, ethnicity and culture).  Members, because of their role in society, have a major responsibility to contribute to the development of ethnic and cultural understanding.

 The curriculum should:

(a) Provide students with continuous opportunities to develop positive self-identities.

(b) Recognize the ethnic and cultural diversity of students within the school community.

(c) Describe the development of Nova Scotia and Canada as a multi-faceted society.

(d) Explore and clarify ethnic and cultural alternatives and options within Nova Scotian and Canadian society and make maximum use of local community resources.

The Employer should:

(e) Set policies and procedures that encourage positive multi-ethnic interactions and understandings among students, teachers, administrative and other support staff.

(f) Provide information to members about the significance of multiculturalism in Nova Scotia and about services, programs, materials and developments relating to multiculturalism.

The NSTU should:

(g) Encourage and inspire a higher level of member awareness and a deeper understanding of the relationships between social behaviour, learning styles and cultural differences and their significance.

(h) Encourage and promote the cooperation of members with organizations, groups and individuals involved with multiculturalism.

(i) Encourage the development of a curriculum that reflects the ethno-cultural similarities and differences within the province.

(j) Promote an anti-homophobic, anti-heterosexist, anti-sexist and anti-racist approach to educational strategies, materials and attitudes within the provincial schools.

Educators should:

(k) Accept their responsibility to educate themselves and to think about their own attitudes and behaviours in modeling respect, understanding and affirmation of diversity.

Programs and Services of the NSTU

The NSTU provides many services to members. Below are some examples of the different services the Union provides:

  • contractual benefits achieved through bargaining
  • protection services like legal services and helping members with medical accommodations
  • the Member Assistance Program that includes counselling services and an Early Intervention Program
  • pension benefits and programs supporting members moving into retirement
  • professional development services such as providing opportunities for conferences and grants, professional learning workshops and presentations and the benefits of the Professional Associations of the Union
  • providing support with matters related to teacher certification, advancing teacher certification and teaching standards
  • group insurance plans including mental health and wellness programs

Finding Information about the NSTU

The NSTU provides a number of good publications for teachers.

The Teacher is available in Page Flip Digital format or Adobe PDF here. (Read More 6)  Included in The Teacher are several regular columns: The President’s Column; Charting Your Course; Occupational Health & Safety; The Well Teacher; and Insurance Update.  It is published 8 times a year from September to June.

The NSTU also provides a number of helpful resources for teachers on various topics.  One is Early Career Teachers.  Visit here to read this handbook. (Read More 7)


Review this handbook if you are considering a teaching career in Nova Scotia.

There is some very useful information for IETs on Job Hunting Skills. Visit here to see topics that include Identifying Skill Set; Preparing a Professional Portfolio; Preparing for an Interview; the Interview Process; Debriefing an Interview; Interview Team Expectations; Writing a Cover Letter; and Writing a Resume.  See Section 6 for more information on these. (Read More 9

Professional Associations

NSTU has 20 Professional Associations. Membership is open to specific categories of members of NSTU. For example, science teachers can become members of the Association of Science Teachers. The mandate is to provide an opportunity for members to initiate professional development in their respective fields. Visit here to see a list of the associations and their fees. (Read More 8)

Click here to link to the source of this information. (See Source 2)



What professional association(s) listed would you be interested in joining and why?

  • Source

    Source 1: NSTU Structure

    NSTU Structure Webpage

  • Source

    Source 2: NSTU Website

    Nova Scotia Teachers Union Website

  • More Reading

    Read More 1: Membership

    Nova Scotia Teachers Union Membership Webpage

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    Read More 2: Code of Ethics

    Nova Scotia Teachers Union Code of Ethics Webpage

  • More Reading

    Read More 3: Teaching Profession Act

    Nova Scotia Teaching Profession Act

  • More Reading

    Read More 4: Teachers' Collective Bargaining Act

    Nova Scotia Teachers' Collective Bargaining Act

  • More Reading

    Read More 5: NSTU Guidebook & Operational Procedures

    Nova Scotia Teachers' Union Guidebook & Operational Procedures

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    Read More 6: The Teacher

    Nova Scotia Teachers Union The Teacher Publication Webpage

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    Read More 7: Handbook for Early Career Teachers

    Nova Scotia Teachers Union Handbook for Early Career Teachers Webpage with PDF download.

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    Read More 8: Professional Associations Directory

    Nova Scotia Teachers Union Professional Associations Directory Webpage

  • More Reading

    Read More 9: Identifying Your Skills Bank as Teachers/Educators

    Nova Scotia Teachers Union Identifying Your Skills Bank as Teachers/Educators Webpage