Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe delivered what was likely welcome news to thousands of teachers gathered at Prairieland Park Wednesday for the Saskatoon Teacher’s Association annual convention.
With contract talks between teachers and the provincial government tied up in binding arbitration, Moe promised to fully fund any contract that comes out of the process.
“We’re going to ensure that the Government of Saskatchewan is there to fund the results of that process, to ensure that we preserve the investment that we have made and continue to make directly into our classrooms,” he said during remarks to reporters following his speech.
The commitment to funding essentially amounts to a promise not to repeat a controversial decision in 2016, when the province declined to fully fund a 1.9 per cent pay raise negotiated with teachers — leaving individual school boards to make cuts in order to find the rest of the cash.
Moe said Wednesday’s commitment would ensure school boards don’t have to pull from frontline services for students.
“We understand that funding the results of this arbitration process may or may not have come out of other resources, some of those resources being in the classroom. And we don’t want that,” he said.
While recently released first-quarter results showed the province making headway on its deficit – which now sits at just over a projected $300 million – Moe said he anticipated funding the new contract with teachers would mean finding room in what’s likely to be a tight budget.
“There will be impacts with what we’ve talked about today and we’ll incorporate those into the budget we have as we know what those impacts actually are,” he said.
Moe declined to speculate on what the arbitrated contract might contain.
Education Minister Gord Wyant said he’s been travelling the province speaking with teachers, parents and school board trustees. He said he heard from all parties that there simply wasn’t much room to put any more pressure on boards or educators when it comes to resources.
“I think the premier’s announcement today is symbolic of the fact that we want to re-build this relationship and create more trust in the sector between government and our partners,” he said.
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