The existing contract, which had been due to expire at the end of the current season, gave the musicians 4 percent raises in each of the last two years after a number of years with no pay increases at all. The new extension offers annual 3 percent pay raises, an additional 1 percent pension contribution by the ESO administration, and improvements in health benefits.
The Edmonton Symphony has balanced its budget for three consecutive years after running a C$1 million deficit in the strike-plagued 2001-02 season. William Eddins, who began his tenure as the ESO's music director in September of 2005, has proven popular with musicians and audiences alike. With things looking up for the orchestra in Alberta's capital, the ESO's board and management felt that the stability provided by a longer-term musicians' contract was important for the financial health of the orchestra.