Skip to content

Teachers in Saskatchewan walk out on one day strike

Classroom complexity a key issue for Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation as they stage a one day walkout across the province

REGINA - Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation followed through Tuesday on their threat to stage a one-day strike of teachers across the province.

About 13,500 teachers across Saskatchewan walked off the job and were on the picket lines throughout the province. Those were set up outside Sask Party MLA offices and near the Legislature building in Regina, where a large contingent of STF members were picketing along Albert Street. Many passing vehicles honked their horns as the teachers union members were walking along the street.

STF staged a media availability in front of the Legislature, an availability that was originally planned for inside the Legislature foyer but which was moved outside due to Legislature security policies. In speaking to reporters in Regina, union leaders blamed the government for causing the walkout. 

“It is unfortunate that Saskatchewan teachers have been pushed to this point,” said Samantha Becotte, President of the STF union.

“Teachers here in Regina are marching out on Albert Street bridge and around the area to stand up to this government and let them know they need to take public education seriously. Our kids are the best investment we can make in this province, and we need to have assurances that in the long term we’ll have predictable and sustainable funding.” 

The walkout follows a conciliation process that ended with both sides at an impasse.

A key stumbling block has been the issue of class size and complexity, with the union maintaining this was something that should be included in collective bargaining, while the province insists it should remain out of collective bargaining and discussed with local school divisions.

Becotte reiterated Tuesday this was something that can be bargained for, but said “we just don’t have the political will in this province to bargain on class size and complexity.”

“They want to minimize these negotiations down to one issue around salary, and that is a complete misrepresentation about the facts at the table. We are fighting for supports around the students' learning conditions. We want to ensure that they have all of the professional supports in school so they can be successful right from their kindergarten years to their grade 12 years.”

She said the union was willing to return to the bargaining table at any point when the province was "willing to make these long term commitments."

Also speaking to reporters was Canadian Teachers’ Federation President Heidi Yetman, who also pointed to classroom complexity as a key issue. 

“Teachers are overworked, undervalued and underpaid,” said Yetman, who said classroom complexity “is negotiated in a lot of other provinces.”

“In Quebec we have language in our provincial collective agreement on class composition, on class size.”

Both Becotte and Yetman had intended that day to hand-deliver over 3,300 letters from parents and teachers to the legislative offices of Premier Scott Moe and Minister of Education Jeremy Cockrill.

In speaking to reporters Tuesday morning, Minister Cockrill said that classroom complexity is a “line in the sand that the government will not be moving on.”

“We believe that issues of classroom size and complexity are best dealt with by school divisions,” Cockrill said. He said he would continue to work with school divisions on that issue.

“It’s not something we are going to include in a provincially negotiated bargaining agreement.”

In Saskatoon, Opposition Leader Carla Beck joined the picket line and issued a statement denouncing the government's response.

“I think it’s incredibly disappointing that Scott Moe and the Sask. Party government are refusing to get to table and at least try to bargain on nine out of ten items. Everyone could see this strike coming from miles away and the Premier still did nothing to prevent it,” said Beck in a news release. “Other provinces like Ontario and British Columbia worked collaboratively with teachers to avoid strikes. It didn’t have to come to this.”