Support staff in the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division are facing a further reduction in hours. This comes on the heels of the recently announced closure of programs to support students with learning disabilities.

“The provincial cuts to education are hurting our children,” said John Kunard, president of CUPE Local 4195, which represents support workers in the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division. “Our students deserve better than program cuts and reductions in staffing time.”

Last year, the division reduced 1,000 hours for many support classifications, including social workers, office administration, language assistants, library technicians, cooks, and educational assistants. This matter is subject to an upcoming labour arbitration. This year sees further reductions for many classifications, including 12‑month employees who are losing two months of work.

“Education support workers are already some of the lowest paid public servants. With a reduction in hours and talk of a 3.5 per cent wage rollback, our members are struggling to make ends meet. Many have to look for second and third jobs.

“Less days of work a year may not seem like much, but for our educational assistants it means less time to prepare for students and less time meeting with teachers to prepare individualized learning plans to meet unique student needs. For librarians, it means no more extra activities like book fairs. It means corners are getting cut for the sake of the bottom line. Our students deserve better,” said Kunard.

The provincial budget cuts $54 million from school divisions’ operating funding – a cut of 2.6 per cent over last year. At the same time, revenues from education property taxes have increased by $67 million, but these revenues are going directly to the government’s general revenue fund and not to school divisions.

CUPE is calling for a restoration of funding for education. CUPE Local 4195 will be hosting a barbeque and a rally on May 18. Stay tuned for more information.