Union encourages Sask Party to make smart school investments

By Nigel Maxwell
April 5, 2018 - 5:00pm

The provincial government has been challenged to make real investments in the Saskatchewan's education system in next week's provincial budget.

Jackie Christianson, chair of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), said her union was promised the budget will include a $30 million investment into education but she would like to see the province's educational commitments go even further.

"We appreciate the money, thank you, but it's time to start investing in our children and this is not going to cut it," she said.

According to a release issued by CUPE Thursday, front-line staff across multiple school divisions in the province have faced cuts and reduced hours over the past two years, including in the Saskatchewan Rivers in Prince Albert. Meanwhile, Christianson said enrollment has increased 13 per cent over the past 10 years.

"In with the increased students you've got more intensive-needs kids, and you've got a lot of children that require supports for English as an additional language," she said.

According to CUPE, wages for educational support staff have not kept up with inflation in the province and are low to begin with, forcing many to work multiple jobs just to make ends meet. Christianson said she has no magic formula to fix the system, but said too many children are falling through the cracks because they are not getting the support they need in the schools.

"There's only so much money in the pot. School divisions are given their pot, and they have been forced to make some horrible decisions that have affected children," Christianson said. "Many parents would say they are satisfied with their children's education, but I know there are large groups, large pockets, that are developing that are saying this is unacceptable."

CUPE also asked the government to give school divisions the ability to adjust mill rates, and to stop funneling public money into private or independent schools.

The provincial budget will be tabled April 10.


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