Heading into the week long Easter Break, the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation is expressing cautious optimism emerging from discussions with the government on a memorandum of understanding. While not explicitly promising movement on the contract when it comes to class size and composition, the issues addressed in the MOU are those that have kept teachers in a prolonged state of job action. 

“I want to thank Minister Cockrill for bringing this novel idea forward,” says STF President Samantha Becotte. “We have engaged in plenty of back and forth, including this morning, on the MOU and we are cautiously optimistic. This is the closest we have been to returning to the table, and we are willing to work through the weekend to make that a reality.” 

In this morning’s release by the STF, President Samantha Becotte continued to state that the STF has done everything to see a return to bargaining with as little impact to students and families as possible. Becotte confirmed that having language in contract that provides guarantees and ensures accountability is of significant importance to teachers. However, she expressed concern about the Saskatchewan School Board Association’s comments and claims of participation.  

“I am deeply disappointed by the comments Jaimie Smith-Windsor, president of the SSBA, made in today’s news conference. She purports to want to collaborate, but her words do not match her actions. As recently as February, we brought forward the issue of violence in the classroom. Instead of working with teachers, the SSBA struck a committee and began working without any teacher involvement,” stated Becotte. “She also claims the SSBA has policies and strategies to address class size and complexity. Yet, over the course of 10 years it has failed to address class size and complexity. The SSBA is either unable or unwilling to address this issue.” 

Further to the SSBA commentary, Becotte clarified that The STF has never put forward the B.C. model for class size and complexity and does not expect that model to be enacted in Saskatchewan. Instead, it seeks a Saskatchewan based model that addresses the unique needs of both urban and rural schools.  

“Teachers do not have, and have never wanted, control of funding. We are asking for an agreement that guarantees funding for school boards and provides assurances that school boards will spend the funding on resources to directly support students, such as EAs, speech language pathologists, psychologists and other professionals,” says Becotte.