STF announces province-wide strike on Wednesday and withdrawal of extracurricular for this weekend

Daily Herald File Photo STF President Samantha Becotte

Saskatchewan teachers will hold another one-day province-wide strike on Wednesday, along with a two-day withdrawal of extracurricular activities on Thursday and Friday.

The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) made the announcement early Monday morning. By law, 48-hours’ notice is required for job action.

The one-day strike coincides with the announcement of the provincial budget. The two-day, province-wide withdrawal of extracurricular activities March 21 and 22 means a possible cancelation of SHSAA Hoopla in Moose Jaw, which is scheduled to begin on Friday.

“Government’s unwillingness to work with teachers in finding any path forward has forced this decision, which will impact students and communities both big and small across the province,” STF President Samantha Becotte said in a press release.

“Teachers have done their part to avoid more job action. We have bargained in good faith, and we have been clear that our opening proposals are only a starting point for discussion. We invited government to take part in binding arbitration on the single issue of class size and complexity, but the education minister rejected the offer within hours. The refusal of Minister Cockrill and Premier Moe to compromise are to blame for the strike and students’ loss of extracurricular activities in the days to come.”

Becotte said more than 4,000 teachers will be at the Legislative Building on Wednesday to deliver a message to the government. Hundreds more will take part in demonstrations at other locations throughout the province.

The STF has also encouraged supporters to join the demonstrations to show that proper funding for education is a concern for more than just teachers.

“Thousands of teachers will bring the message right to government’s doorstep,” Becotte says. “The Premier and Education Minister are not listening to teachers, and they are not listening to the thousands of parents, caregivers and students who are calling on government to respond to the needs of education.”

The two-day, province-wide withdrawal of extracurricular activities March 21-22 means teachers will not provide voluntary services involved in the organization, supervision and facilitation of activities including athletics, non-curricular arts, field trips, student travel, graduation preparations, school clubs and other activities.

“We are fighting to improve the learning conditions for all students across Saskatchewan,” Becotte added.

“Extracurricular activities are an incredibly valuable part of the school experience for both students and teachers, but the education of children and youth is always our first priority. We can no longer watch the decline of our students’ learning environment while government ignores reality and refuses to make a commitment to predictable, sustainable funding for prekindergarten to Grade 12 education.”

With the one-day province-wide strike announced for Wednesday the scheduled Open House at Carlton Comprehensive High School in Prince Albert would be cancelled.

While speaking to the press at an event earlier in the day, Premier Scott Moe commented on the possibility that Hoopla and the Optimist Band Festival in Regina could be cancelled as well. He claimed that the STF were targeting events like these.

“It’s disappointing,” Moe said. “They don’t have to shut down Hoopla. They can make a decision to not shut down Hoopla and they can make a decision to come back to the bargaining table and we respectively ask them to do so.”

Hoopla was cancelled in 2020 when negotiations stalled over classroom complexities. That point became moot after the province was shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moe also repeated claims by the government that the STF has only been at the table for 30 minutes in five months. The STF has denied this claim, pointing to the five full days of conciliation in December, which was the last act that led to the job action, as proof they have been at the bargaining table.