The Saskatchewan Government is backing down from fully funding a pay increase for teachers.
Education Minister Don Morgan said they won’t pay the 1.9 per cent increase that was negotiated recently that worked out to about $18 million. Instead, he said they’ll fund about $9 million.
“This is a very difficult year for the province. We had a catastrophic drop in resource revenue. No one in the world by way of analysts has said this is something that could have or would have been predicted. So now we’re working our way through it and we’re looking for savings everywhere that we can,” he explained.
Morgan said the province is asking school divisions to look for savings, whether that means re-examining bussing or sharing resources with other school divisions.
“This is the first time in history the money for the teachers’ contracts wasn’t forthcoming in the budget,” said NDP education critic Carla Beck.
The opposition said the move could result in cuts to teaching jobs or programming.
“It’s an agreement that’s bargained in good faith. Of course, school boards don’t have the ability to raise their own revenue. I would consider it a contractual obligation of the provincial government to provide that funding,” added Beck.
“We’re honouring the contract,” responded Morgan.
“We’re not backing away from the contract, but we are saying to the divisions that we have had an unprecedented and unknown drop in revenue and we’re saying to them you have to work with us and find some savings.”