The Saskatchewan Ministry of Education budget breakdown shows that the operational funding for school divisions does not keep up with inflation, and in many cases school divisions will be facing cuts.
“The government is quick to brag that funding for education has never been higher. But an increase of 2.5 percent does not come close to covering inflationary and enrolment increases. Four school divisions are seeing outright funding cuts at a time where the province has a $1 billion surplus,” said Omar Murray, chair of CUPE Saskatchewan’s Education Workers’ Steering Committee. “It is unacceptable. Northwest School Division will see a 0.4% cut, Light of Christ, and Holy Family both saw cuts of 1.1% and 0.9% respectively, and Sun West School Division is faced with a whopping 6.2% cut.”
Saskatchewan’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased by 5.7% from February 2022 to February 2023. Several school divisions received meager funding increases between .03% and 2.5% - well below the rate of inflation. These include Northern Lights School Division, Ile a la Crosse School Division, Prince Albert RCSSD, Saskatchewan Rivers School Division and South East Cornerstone School Division.
“A funding increase that does not keep up with inflation is a cut. The education sector has been starved for funding for years,” added Murray. “The impact this budget will have on the education sector is clear: less supports for students and more stress and uncertainty for those working in the sector.”
CUPE continues to be concerned about the provincial funding for private independent schools. This budget increases funding for private schools to $17.6 million.
“This government continues to neglect the public education sector in favour of private schools and has now launched a questionable online learning crown with a price tag of $23 million. This money could be better utilized supporting the public education system,” said Murray.
CUPE is calling for an end to private school funding, and an immediate increase in education funding.
“As support staff, we have already seen years of layoffs, reduction in hours and loss of specialized supports for students. Education support staff are the heart of our schools, but we can’t keep providing the same levels of support under a government that continues to underfund and undervalue public education. Our government needs to step up with more funding for our children’s future,” concluded Murray.
CUPE represents 7,000 education support workers in the following classifications: education assistants, library assistants and technicians, custodians, tradespeople, school secretaries, bus drivers, social workers and computer technicians, along with many other classifications.