Province commits to fully funding teachers’ salaries

Premier Scott Moe speaks at a Prince Albert and District Chamber of Commerce breakfast on June 18, 2018. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

Announcement walks back prior comments that school boards would be asked to cover portion of increase

The province’s decision to fund all of teachers’ salaries is a relief for Ryan Meili, but don’t expect the Saskatchewan NDP leader to jump for joy.

The decision, announced by Premier Scott Moe during his Wednesday speech at the Saskatoon Teachers’ Association convention, walks back earlier comments that the province would not fully fund a salary increase. The province is currently in arbitration with the province’s 13,500 teachers.

Moe said the decision will “preserve the investment that we have made and continue to make directly into our classrooms.

“We understand that funding the results of this arbitration process may or may not have to come out of other resources … and we don’t want that, so we’re committed to funding the results of that process,” Moe told reporters after his speech.

Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation president Pat Maze said he was pleased with the announcement because “it means that students won’t be used as a pawn in funding a new agreement for teachers.”

The move is the provincial government’s second reversal on decreased education spending. Moe, shortly after becoming premier, restored $30 million of $54 million cut from the education budget.

During a stop in Prince Albert Wednesday, Meili characterized the decision as the government merely doing what it is supposed to.

“I was relieved to hear it because it was a very strange thing they did last time, where they told teachers, we’ll pay you this much – the school boards are going to have to pay (part) of it,’” he said.

“School boards in this situation – particularly right now where the government cut … $24 million, if they forced school boards to pay that contract, it would have resulted in firings and decreased resources in the classroom. I have trouble getting too excited on it because they’re just doing what they’re supposed to do. You are an employee. You pay your employees. That money should come from you.

— with files from the Saskatoon StarPhoenix