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Legislative Report
(25 May 2011)

Putting Students First

Negotiations between the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee (GTBC) and the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) broke down again last week after only three days back at the bargaining table. Last week, the GTBC went back to the table with approximately $9 million in additional resources to improve their original offer bringing the total cost of the package to over $100 million. Their intent was to be flexible in the interest of concluding a deal. The current offer to the STF would ensure Saskatchewan teachers would be among the highest paid in Canada.

Instead of committing to concluding a fair, reasonable and competitive deal, the STF decided to hold a two day strike on May 25th and 26th and is still requesting an increase of 16.3 per cent over three years.

On May 24th, the GTBC wrote to the STF and requested that they guarantee that any further action would not impact final exams. Unfortunately, the STF will not make this guarantee. Our first concern is for the students and their ability to write their final exams without disruption. As the individuals making the decision to strike and to select what days those will be, the teachers union has the ability and responsibility to decide not to impact Grade 12 student finals. Saskatchewan students and families need a firm commitment that the STF will allow final exams to take place. The GTBC wants to conclude a deal and has asked for the STF to return to the bargaining table so teachers can return to the classroom to finish up the school year with their students.

Our government is committed to students in the province and to the educational success of all children. In addition to providing an historic $158.6M education property tax relief to all property owners in the province, our government has made unprecedented investments in Saskatchewan’s public education system. Over the past four years, total funding for education has risen to $1.65 billion, an increase of 15 per cent. Some of the other major improvements to our early learning and preK-12 education system include:

  • The Provincial Government now pays 65 percent of the costs of PreK-12 education;
  • $376.5 million invested for school capital in Saskatchewan, well over a third of our schools have benefited from either a minor or a major capital project
  • Early Learning and Child Care – 35 percent increase in licensed spaces; and
  • Pre-kindergarten – expanded by nearly 75 percent-added 115 programs.
Over the past four years, Saskatchewan students and public education system have received strong support. Our province and education system are moving in the right direction, and our sincere hope is that we can maintain this momentum in a sustainable, collaborative and long-term way.

In fact, all people in Saskatchewan have seen the benefit of the Saskatchewan Advantage. Just this week, Standard & Poor's upgraded Saskatchewan's credit rating to the highest level possible. For the first time in Saskatchewan's history, the credit rating is at the AAA level. With our strong economy, Saskatchewan people have benefited from reduced education property taxes, increased tax exemptions and an estimated 114,000 Saskatchewan residents are no longer on the provincial income tax roll.

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