“No more cuts.”
That was the message being spread across the steps of the Regina Legislative Building by over 3,000 teachers, students and community members on Saturday, during a rally for public education.
“This is just the beginning of the fight that we will have if we don’t start seeing this government put a real investment into public education,” said Saskatchewan Teachers Federation (STF) president. Samantha Becotte,
People from across the province were in attendance, demanding that the provincial government stop cuts to public education, and provide funding to meet all students’ needs.
“It has taken decades of cuts to get to this point,” Becotte explained. “Teachers do their best to make do with what we have but we see more burnout in teachers and more teachers leaving the province.”
Frustration has been mounting for many with the cuts they are seeing.
“Teachers are mad as hell and we’re not going to take this anymore,” said Jenny Regal, with the Canadian Teachers Federation.
“Who suffers? The children suffer? Who Cares? We care!” Judy Henley, the CUPE Saskatchewan president said as she looked out over those gathered Saturday.
And while it is mostly teachers rallying for change, the focus of all of it remains on the students.
“Every person in this province deserves a high-quality education,” Becotte said. “We are ready to stand up and demand more.”
Becotte said there’s only been one year in the last decade where the increase in education funding was above the rate of inflation.
“This last budget was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Becotte said.
To bring back per-student funding to what it was a decade ago, the province needs to spend at least $400 million more on public education each year, according to Saskatchewan’s Teachers Federation.
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Between 2021 and 2022, STF said there was a drop of about 330 educators across the province, which Becotte said came from budget cuts.
“The Saks. The party claims that their plan is growth that works for everyone,” Henley said. “The only growth that this budget brings is a growing privatization, a growing number of children in classrooms and a growing cost of living.”
Global News reached out to the province this week for comment and received a statement.
“In Saskatchewan, education is a shared responsibility. While the government provides the funding to school divisions for the provision of programs, supports, and services, school divisions have the responsibility to make staffing and programming decisions within their allocated budget to meet local priorities and address the needs of their students and staff.”
The Ministry of Education said it hands out operational funding through the pre-kindergarten to Grade 12 funding distribution model, and that funding for this school year was allocated using projected enrolments that are provided by school divisions.
“Once actual enrolments for the 2023-24 school year are known, updates can be made to ensure that funding is allocated where needs are highest. In this year’s budget, Saskatchewan’s 27 school divisions will receive an increase of $49.4 million or 2.5 per cent over the 2022-23 budget. The province is also providing $7 million in continued funding to school divisions to retain the more than 200 Educational Assistants that have been hired since September 2021.”
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