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Yorkton: Teachers hit the streets for second time in a week

Strategies to address large class sizes, measures to reduce and eliminate violence in classrooms and a minimum provincial salary for substitute teachers among proposals.

YORKTON – Local teachers and supporters once again took to the streets Jan. 22 in another one day strike.

The second one-day strike came just under a week after the first one-day strike which took place Jan. 16. There were approximately 35 demonstration sites in communities across Saskatchewan for the Jan. 22 strike, according to a release from the STF.

“The day after our first strike action, rather than acknowledging the outstanding efforts of teachers, the Minister [of Education] attempted to make it all about salary demands. If he had been paying attention, he’d know our job action was about so much more than that,” said Sask Teachers' Federation President, Samantha Becotte, in a news release dated Jan. 18.

“We’re seeking long-term commitments from government on critical issues impacting students, including class size and complexity – not patchwork pilot projects that don’t fix the systemic issues in our schools," added Becotte in the release.

“We are giving this government every opportunity to return to the table and engage with us to find solutions,” said Becotte, in a release dated Jan. 22. 

“If they continue to flat-out refuse to bargain on class size and complexity, which are the learning conditions for  Saskatchewan’s students, we will have no choice but to continue to exercise the only options we have left to bring them back into discussions," added Becotte in the release.

"We have been very clear that we are ready and willing to negotiate – and that must include class size and complexity. This is about so much more than a single issue. This about ensuring our kids have access to the resources and supports they desperately need, for many years to come,” said Becotte.

New data from the Ministry of Education shows significant enrolment growth from 2022-23 to 2023-24 – three percent, or 5,658 students, province-wide. Nearly 75 percent of school divisions in Saskatchewan experienced this uptick. Teacher staffing numbers have declined by almost two percent for 2022-23, detailed the release.

According to the 2023 Asking Package Highlights available on the STF's website, the STF is proposing:

  • an annual pay increase of two percent plus the Consumer Price Index average annual rate for Sask, for each of the next four years
  • evidence-based plan of action that responds to the key factors contributing to increased class complexity: more students, more complex needs and fewer resources to support learning. Strategies to address large class sizes, which magnify class complexity
  • measures to reduce and eliminate violence in classrooms and schools, including the creation of a confidential provincial reporting mechanism
  • a minimum provincial salary for substitute teachers, paid sick leave and the guaranteed right to representation by the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation
  • the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to be a paid commemorative day for all members, and that all Indigenous members be provided the right to have an Elder present during disciplinary proceedings.

According to the STF, the proposals were developed through an extensive consultation process with members. More than 9,000 teachers participated in surveys.