Over 13,000 teachers in Saskatchewan held a one-day provincial strike on January 16, but despite their action and widespread public support, the right-wing government of Scott Moe still refuses to negotiate a contract that supports public education.
In response, the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) is holding another one-day strike on January 22.
“The day after our first strike action, rather than acknowledging the outstanding efforts of teachers, the Minister of Education attempted to make it all about salary demands,” said STF President Samantha Becotte. “If he had been paying attention, he’d know our job action was about so much more than that – we’re seeking long-term commitments from government on critical issues impacting students including class size and complexity, not patchwork pilot projects that don’t fix the systemic issues in our schools.”
Public school funding in Saskatchewan fell from the highest among Canadian provinces in 2016 to second last at present. The union says that education cuts are preventing students from getting the support they need. “Reductions we’ve seen include 7 percent to teacher counsellors, 63 percent to teacher-librarians and about 5 percent to school psychologists.”
At the same time, while teacher staffing numbers declined by almost two percent for 2022-23, Ministry of Education date shows significant enrolment growth of three percent, or over 5600 students, from 2022-23 to 2023-24.
“Our government’s own data shows ballooning enrolment in the majority of our school divisions, but teachers and other critical resources aren’t keeping pace with this growth,” said Becotte. “The math is simple: More students with fewer teachers means class sizes are growing. Students are facing long wait times for special supports such as psychologists and speech language pathologists. Others are simply falling through the cracks, despite the best efforts of teachers and school staff. There is simply not enough support.”
Teachers and the STF are receiving enormous public support. Since January 11, over 16,000 calls and emails have been sent to the premier and Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill.
To support teachers in their struggle to defend and expand public education, visit a demonstration site on January 22.
[Photo: STF X]
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