With the talks between the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation and the provincial government stalled again, and job action by the STF set to resume on Friday, the opposition NDP is calling on the government to do what they can to get a deal done.  

NDP Leader Carla Beck noted that while there were two days of negotiations scheduled for earlier this week, there was only a part of an afternoon where both parties were in the same room. From there, the two sides posted videos to social media stating the other side had walked away from the table. 

“We need to see these parties back at the table, and would like to see the minister be serious about getting a deal that ensures our kids are going to stay in school and get the education that they deserve,” Beck told Discover Weyburn.  

The sticking point in the negotiations that has gotten the most visibility has been concerns about class size, and classroom complexity. Beck noted teachers, parents and school divisions have brought up these issues over the past decade. 

“We saw the South East Cornerstone (Public School Division) really put plain that these concerns have been made on their part to their MLAs and that those concerns had not generated the kind of funding that is needed to address these concerns,” Beck said. “This is all about the kids. We need to ensure that our kids have the education that they need, but that we as a province need to be providing so that they have a chance to thrive, and our province has a chance to thrive.” 

In recent weeks, the NDP has put forward numbers to highlight the funding needs for education in the province. They have pointed to the growth of enrolment in schools in Saskatchewan – 15,000 students – in the past eight years, while there is now just one more full-time equivalent teaching position in the entire province compared to eight years ago.  

Beck stated they have been hearing those concerns from across the province, including in the southeast, and those concerns have been heard from the school boards for a while now. 

“I was in the room with the School Boards Association this spring when those concerns were being put to the last education minister, the Member for Weyburn, and those are well established, well known. Yet, we see a minister here who would rather spend time making Twitter videos than actually being at the table and finding that path, finding a way to ensure that our kids have the education that they deserve.” 

Beck encouraged people to talk to their teachers and school board trustees, while also looking at the numbers over the years when it comes to the budget and the education sector, adding the concerns have been brought up over the years, and have never been truly addressed.  

“Teachers want those kids to thrive, I know that parents want their kids to thrive. What we need is a deal. We need to get the minister back to the table with a mandate, not do this through the media as he suggested we shouldn’t do,” Beck continued. She added she agrees with him the negotiations shouldn’t be done through media announcements, and that the government should have the trust and respect for the teachers to get to the table to find a path forward.  

Here in southeast Saskatchewan, funding for the school divisions has not kept up with the needs of the division. The past two years have seen the divisions need to run a deficit and South East Cornerstone has had to cut staff as recently as 2022. The divisions are also solely reliant on grants from the provincial government as they are unable to look for revenue outside of those grants.