Premier Scott Moe took to social media Wednesday evening and unveiled a portion of what is being set aside for education in the provincial budget ahead of the actual tabling of the budget, which is scheduled for March 20th.  

In the 2 ½ minute video, Moe said he made the unusual move in reaction to the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation questioning the commitment of the government to continue funding for class size and complexity. The STF has been calling for language surrounding funding to be included in the collective agreement like other provinces have done, while the government has been steadfast that they will not be including it in the agreement itself, and any commitments will be made outside of bargaining.  

“This should clearly demonstrate our government’s commitment to address teachers’ concerns around classroom supports,” Moe said in the video.  

According to Moe, the budget will include a $180 million increase in operating funding for the school divisions of the province, which is a nearly nine percent increase from the 2023-24 budget. The total budget, $2.2 billion, will include $356 million specifically for classroom supports, an increase of $45 million from the previous budget.  

“That is a record budget to address classroom size and complexity, and we will continue to work very closely with our school divisions to ensure that this record investment is used where it is needed the most, right in our classrooms, supporting our students,” Moe continued.  

The premier also emphasized he wanted to get the best deal for the taxpayers of Saskatchewan while also making reasonable, affordable concessions to get the STF back to the bargaining table.  

“So today, in light of these significant concessions, I am asking the STF to pause their job action so that teachers and students can return to their classrooms and the teachers’ union can return to the bargaining table.” 

In a release issued by the STF after the premier’s announcement, they described the move as one to avoid accountability.  

“Our education system cannot function properly if it is reliant on ad-hoc, politically motivated funding announcements that come and go at the whim of a minister,” the statement read. “The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation has been clear: we will not return to the bargaining table until government and the Saskatchewan School Boards Association are willing to include a firm, irrevocable commitment in the collective agreement. 

“We have lived through promises, so-called commitments and election year budgets only to have the funding clawed back or cut a year later. This is not bargaining at the table, and it is not an irrevocable commitment in contract.” 

The STF initiated job action in January after an impasse was declared in negotiations in October. A conciliator’s report said it was not unreasonable to include issues like classroom complexity and class size in a new collective agreement, similar to what has happened in other provinces. The provincial government, though, has remained steadfast in not having it included in the final agreement.