Skip to content

Minister Cockrill 'disappointed' with STF president statement

Nov. 4 saw mini rally across from the MLA's office in North Battleford.
A grandmother stands with her grand children during the rally with nearly 1000 students, parents, and educators in attendance

NORTH BATTLEFORD — Days after the president of the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF) Samantha Becotte, told a crowd of approximately 1,000 demonstrators in the Battlefords that she's ready to fight for public education, Minister of Education Jeremy Cockrill reiterated that the government is waiting at the negotiating table.

"I did see some video of Ms. Becotte’s statement on the weekend and found it disappointing," he told the News-Optimist in an email statement. 

"My understanding is that we had made progress on several topics before the STF decided to leave the bargaining table and declare an impasse. Our government has put forward what we believe is a fair deal for teachers and are waiting at the negotiating table to get a deal done," he wrote.

At at Nov. 4 rally for public education — the last of the four STF fall rallies held across Saskatchewan — Becotte and protests expressed concerns with what they called a looming crisis in the education system. 

This is evidenced, they say, by a budget that doesn't meet inflation or increased class sizes, a lack of educational policy resolutions at the Sask. Party Convention, a lack of educational assistants, and parents having to pay out-of-pocket for school resources due to increasing waitlists for occupational therapists and counsellors

When asked to speak to the concerns raised by constituents at the rally that Cockrill isn't qualified to support students and the education system, or that the government wasn't seemingly present to hear them, he said, "I was honoured to be selected as MLA for The Battlefords during the 2020 provincial election and I have worked tirelessly for our community every day since that election.

"It is not always easy to balance the responsibilities of being an MLA with a Cabinet portfolio, but I am working hard every day to engage with school divisions, teachers, early childhood educators, and other stakeholders in the sectors to listen and learn so I can bring forward policies that are best for Saskatchewan families," he said.

Cockrill added that he's available for phone calls and in-person meetings for any constituent seeking to discuss whatever issues or concerns may be on their mind.

When asked how the government plans to resolve concerns around educational assistants, counsellors, or occupational therapists, he said that in June the ministry added $40 million to an over $2 billion budget.

"$20 million was provided specifically for enrolment growth, which we are seeing in most school divisions including here in Living Sky and Light of Christ," he said. 

"The other $20 million was provided to fund support positions across all 27 school divisions.

"Specifically, here in the Battlefords and area, this has fully funded two teaching positions in Light of Christ Catholic School Division and nearly ten student support positions within Living Sky School Division.  As I meet with school divisions, we are continuing to discuss different options to better support students, families, and teachers."