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Education Minister ‘disappointed’ STF walked away from bargaining table

Education Minister Gordon Wyant said Monday he is disappointed the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) walked away from the bargaining table.

The STF announced Monday that they will be implementing sanctions beginning March 12. Teachers voted 90.2 per cent in favour of sanctions in February.

Wyant said during question period at the Legislature on Monday that teachers have “walked away from kids” in light of the sanction announcement.

“They have chosen to walk away from those conversations and not return to the bargaining table, so we are disappointed,” said Wyant during a media scrum Monday.

“Children are going to be impacted by this,” he added.

A statement released Monday by the STF said they will continue to provide students with the best possible learning opportunities during the school day, but they would no longer provide any voluntary or extracurricular services.

Initially, the government and the STF were working towards providing a fund that could be accessed by teachers and school boards to provide services to children that they need. The proposed numbers were the government would put in $25 million and that would be matched by the STF and disbursed over five years, totalling $10 million a year. 

The STF felt the amount proposed by the government was not sufficient enough to provide the resources necessary.

“It’s not good for children, it is not good for teachers and it is not good for parents. Our hope is that the STF returns to the bargaining table to start to talk in earnest with respect to the important issues we have before us,” said Wyant.

Patrick Maze, president of the STF, said in the statement released Monday it is “extremely frustrating” the government admits there is a problem, but refuses to address it.

“Students are paying the price. Teachers have made it clear that securing adequate classroom resources for students is worth fighting for,” said Maze.

Opposition leader Ryan Meili was “blown away” at the statement made by Wyant that teachers have walked away from kids.

“Our teachers are standing up for our kids and he accused them of walking away from Saskatchewan children. Here is the guy who has presided over cut after cut in our education system, who has watched our per student funding fall since 2016. Seven thousand more kids not a single dollar more, and he is accusing teachers of walking away from kids?” said Meili during a media scrum on Monday.

“If I have to chose from someone with that track record, or the people who have been going to work every day, who, the only thing they are withdrawing is the time they spend extra staying after school with kids, I’m sticking with the teachers,” he added.

Jordan Stricker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Estevan Mercury

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