NDP & CUPE call on Sask. Government for more funding to end staffing cuts

The pink flags of CUPE flew in front of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building as education workers from across Saskatchewan stood on the steps as the NDP called on the provincial Government to increase operating funding to divisions to end cuts to staffing levels.

Education Critic Matt Love said that not only is the Government leaving kids behind, but those who work with the kids.

“CUPE members tirelessly prepare our kids for the future, but instead of meaningfully investing in their essential work, we see staff to student ratios climbing while per-student funding is plummeting in this province.”

Love said that they all want the same things.

“We all want to see a brighter future for our kids. We want to see a province that is the best province in Canada to be a kid, raise a kid, and serve kids in our schools,” he said. “That process starts with taking care of those essential adults who work in our schools. We need to pay those adults who nurture kids with their work; we need to listen to their concerns; that process also starts with having their back, and that’s somewhere where this Government has continued to fail those people who work in our schools.”

Rob Westfield, an education support worker and chair of CUPE Saskatchewan’s Education Workers’ Steering Committee said this year’s budget didn’t meet the education sector’s needs.

“The Government’s failure to fund growth is essentially a cut to education. This is resulting in larger class sizes and less individual attention for students and an overall lower quality experience,” he said. “We show up every day for the students of Saskatchewan, and we are here calling on the Saskatchewan Government to do the same.”

“There truly is nothing left to cut. Schools are already running skeleton crews, but this Government has told the school boards to make it work, and the results will be disastrous,” he continued. “Many boards are considering program cuts and layoffs. These cuts will have devastating consequences on the quality of education students receive.”

Karla Sastaunik, an education assistant with the Good Spirit School Division, said that the cuts will result in tougher times for students.

“I’ve been doing this work for 35 years, and over the years, my schedule has been cut from having hours per week to spend with a student or in a specific class to sometimes now only having minutes per week to try and accomplish those same goals.”

Edith Schneider, education assistant with the Chinook School Division at the Fox Valley student, will decrease her workday by 30 minutes a day, or 10 hours every month. She has some questions for the provincial Government.

“My workday is specially designed around the students that I work with. Is there a school day also going to end 30 minutes earlier every day? Are they all of a sudden not going to need me the first 30 minutes each day? or are other staff members that I am going to work with going to have to pick up the slack because I am not there. They are already stretched thin.”

Love added that the support they’ve received is an example that this year’s education budget fell short.

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