The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation is disappointed the provincial government reached an agreement with the Saskatchewan School Boards Association outside of the bargaining process but understands the situation the SSBA found themselves in.  

Friday morning, the provincial government announced they had reached a four-year agreement with the SSBA regarding funding for classroom supports. The agreement would see a minimum of $356.6 million a year for four years for those supports. This would come out to a $45 million increase over the 2023-24 school year level.  

“From information that we had received, this deal was presented to school board trustees, and they were only provided 24 hours to consider whether they would endorse the agreement or not,” said Samantha Becotte, president of the STF, during a news conference Friday afternoon. “Given the experience of boards over the last 15 years, it is disappointing that the SSBA leadership signed this agreement, but we’re not surprised. School boards had their autonomy stripped by this government in 2009 when they removed boards’ ability to raise revenue through their local levy, and in 2015, local school boards’ existence was threatened as government contemplated removing local school boards or amalgamating to a handful that would represent large areas of the province.” 

Becotte did state the STF would be prepared to return to the bargaining table if the government was willing to present their agreement to be included in the CBA with some amendments. Those include assurances boards would not be able to use the new funds for anything other than classroom supports, that the funding be tied to enrolment and inflation, that a reporting mechanism on the use of those funds is put in place, that the funding not be subject to appropriation and that the term be adjusted to align with a new collective agreement.  

“We’re ready to get to a solution, we’re ready for the dispute to end, but we need government ready to make those commitments,” Becotte added.  

The agreement that was announced Friday morning stated the deal would take effect on April 1st of this year, and last until March 31st of 2028. The amount is also subject to appropriation, which would mean it could be removed from the budget at any point in time. The funding also includes money previously announced, such as the $20 million committed to classroom complexity back in June of 2023 for the current school year. The multi-year funding agreement doesn’t have any provisions for increases included, aside from a mention that any budgetary increases are to be considered in future budget cycles.  

The STF has expressed concerns about the willingness of the government to commit to the funding, and said by including this in the collective agreement, it provides a dispute resolution process if any issues do arise. 

Despite the funding announcement Friday morning, the STF isn’t preparing to halt job action. They are willing to pause the sanctions, though, if the government will come to the table with a renewed mandate. 

“I would welcome a call from the GTBC or from the Minister of Education to say that they were willing to put this, amended, into our contract, and we could get back to the table and we could find a resolution to this process.”