Saskatchewan’s Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill has been in the hotseat with the province’s teachers during exchanges surrounding contract talks. Now, the Minister apologized in the Legislature for a remark made during a private meeting with a parent. 

 During an encounter with Taya Thomas, Cockrill admitted to a poor choice of words when he asked if he should give up his first-born child after he learned that Thomas’s daughter had died.  

Mayelle Thomas, 13-year-old daughter of Taya Thomas, died last year after a prolonged battle with several medical conditions.  

Cockrill posed, "What do they want me to do? Give up my first-born child,” during his conversation with the parent about teacher negotiations. Thomas immediately challenged the Minister for his comment, but she states that Cockrill did not apologize during the course of their meeting. 

Cockrill claims he did offer an apology to the distressed parent during their meeting. Thomas met with Cockrill to elaborate on the situation her daughter faced in not being able to attend high school due to lack of room in a specialized program. Saskatchewan teachers have been at odds with the provincial government for years over inadequate funding that impacts students in accessing appropriate supports.  

Opposition NDP member Alena Young invited Thomas to the legislature and chastised Cockrill for his comment and what she characterized as his subsequent dismissive behaviour.  

"I think what anyone would do when they realize they've said something incredibly thoughtless, other than feel like garbage, is immediately apologize," she said. 

Following Cockrill's apology during the session, Young stated, "Today what we saw was a casual apology in the chamber. He didn't look at (Thomas) and doubled down on this claim he apologized to her day-of." 

- with files from The Canadian Press