I think the issue with the wages part of the offer to teachers is that it is 0% in the first 2 years of the contract. In both 2015 and 2016 the NS economy was not in recession with the GDP growing in both years and growth also projected for 2017. This leaves only 2018 a bit uncertain at this point.
So minimally you might expect at least a half percent increase for the first 2 years of the contract rather than 0%.
If we take the government offer of 3% as fixed, there are a number of ways that it could be distributed over the 4 years of the contract to provide a better offer to teachers (each of which involves slightly more money but not excessively so) and which does not have 0% in any of the years.
Some examples are:
A) .5% (first 3 years) and 1.5% final year; or,
B) .5% (first 2 years) .75% (third year) and 1.25% (final year); or,
C) .5% (first 2 years) and 1% (final 2 years).
This would mean only a few hundred dollars more in wages each year and would show at least some sensitivity to the position of the teachers and not make them feel that they are really falling behind economically. Plus, if it goes to arbitration, the options above might be looked at more favorably by the arbitrator as it shows some movement in trying to reach a negotiated settlement and also reflects an economy which one would think allow for a small increase to have been paid.
Here's hoping that everything works out for the best and teachers feel supported at the end of the process. —Hoping for the best (or at least not the worst)