- On Tuesday, educators from across Saskatchewan gathered on the steps of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building in Regina to demand better support for their profession.
- CUPE members did not demand a specific dollar number, but they did ask for enough to avoid the cuts being considered by several Saskatchewan school districts.
- Duncan also emphasized that school districts still have time to study and submit their budgets to the government before the June deadline.
Educators from around Saskatchewan gathered on the steps of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building in Regina on Tuesday to demand more support for the industry.
Members of Saskatchewan’s opposition party, CUPE Saskatchewan, and community members joined the group to express their worries about severe education cuts that affect the quality of education in Saskatchewan.
CUPE Saskatchewan claims to represent over 7,000 education professionals in 40 different fields.
Tena Schneider, an educational assistant with the Chinook School Division, which covers schools in the province’s southwest region, is one of them.
Schneider expressed her displeasure after the school division announced plans to slash full-time educational helper hours by 30 minutes per day during a Day of Action protest outside the legislative building.
She claims that not only will this decision cut educational assistant pay by at least 8%, but that children will suffer as well.
“Some of our difficult students don’t fit into our cookie-cutter model.” So they might not be able to take classes like Physics 30, Chemistry 30, or Biology at a smaller institution,” Schneider added.
“As a result, the classes they need to complete to graduate are all online, and they’ll need extra help with those.”
Schneider and her colleagues are urging the province to reassess the amount of money it committed to education in its March provincial budget, representing a 1.5 percent increase in operational financing.
According to the union, CUPE members did not demand a precise cash amount, but they did call for enough to avoid the cuts that many Saskatchewan school divisions are considering.
The province’s education minister, Dustin Duncan, said the government had set aside an additional $7 million in this year’s budget above and above the operating budget for education to hire up to 200 more educational assistants.
“When we prepare our report to the Treasury Board, the first thing we look at is the major cost drivers for school divisions, and the biggest cost driver for most school divisions is teacher wages,” Duncan explained.
“That was already agreed at 2%, so we’re not looking at 4.5 or 4.7 percent for something that requires 2% to cover.”
Duncan also stated that school districts still have time to review their budgets before the June deadline for submitting them to the government.
According to the government, the average class size proxy for the 2021-2022 school year is 19.1, which is somewhat lower than the pre-pandemic level of 19.2 in 2019-2020.
Source: CTV News