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STF calls province’s education budget announcement ‘latest unprecedented stunt’

Click to play video: 'STF calls province’s education budget announcement ‘latest unprecedented stunt’'
STF calls province’s education budget announcement ‘latest unprecedented stunt’
The Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation is calling on the Sask. Party government to take its funding promise and embed it into a new collective agreement – Mar 7, 2024

The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation is calling on the Sask. Party government to take its funding promise and embed it into a new collective agreement.

On Wednesday, Premier Scott Moe said the 2024-25 budget will include the largest increase in school operating funding ever in Saskatchewan’s history.

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Moe said there would be $180 million in increased funding, up nearly nine per cent to $2.2 billion.

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“Saskatchewan teachers have made it clear that predictable, sustainable funding to address classroom size and complexity is their priority,” STF president Samantha Becotte said.

“Wednesday’s surprise announcement by Premier Scott Moe continues this government’s patchwork approach to funding education. Any funding must be accompanied by a long-term commitment and assurances that these funds will be directed to supports for classrooms. This is an attempt to sideline bargaining and avoid that commitment to students.”

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Moe said there was money specifically set aside in the budget for classroom supports and asked teachers to rescind the job action they’ve been taking.

“Today, I am taking the unusual step of announcing part of the education budget prior to budget day, to clearly demonstrate our commitment to address teachers’ concerns around classroom supports,” Moe announced on X (formerly Twitter).

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“The teachers’ union has questioned this commitment and has used this as their reason not to return to the bargaining table and continue with job action.”

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Becotte called this the province’s “latest unprecedented stunt,” saying the government are making announcements like this rather than bargaining in good faith with teachers.

“This government has a long history of making and breaking promises when it comes to funding education. This time, the Premier and Education Minister must be accountable for commitments made to students and families. That’s why teachers insist that any measures to address class size and complexity be included in a province-wide collective agreement – this is the only way to ensure government will live up to its word.”

Moe spoke on Thursday, saying he agrees with parents and teachers that investment needs to be made in classroom supports, but said those investments will continue to stay outside the bargaining process with teachers.

“We’re not going to transition the decision-making ability on how to allocate those funds into schools, into classrooms, from the locally elected school divisions to the provincial union. We just simply won’t do it.”

Moe added that the number he gave Wednesday was the number in the upcoming budget, but couldn’t say what that number would look like in the year after.

Becotte warned that a one-year investment can be clawed back.

She said teachers have never said that the supports they are looking for would be teacher-dictated, saying one of the proposals they brought forward was a minimum standard of support for students across the province.

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She said sustainable, long-term funding for education was still their goal, as teachers had no way outside of contract negotiations to hold the province accountable.

— With Files from Andrew Benson

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