Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation President Samantha Becotte says provincial Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill’s remarks during a teacher vote on a proposed contract amounts to interference.  

Today is the final day for teachers to vote on a contract offer that provides for modest salary increases, but one that does not seal concerns about classroom size and complexity into the contract.  

Becotte is taking exception to the Minister’s statement on the possibility of extending the school year if teachers vote down the contract. She calls the statement during the teachers’ voting process disappointing.  

"I do think it's an attempt to influence the decision by teachers this week, and potentially influence the public if sanctions were to continue," Becotte said in an interview.  "Whatever is decided with the school year, that is their choice and the choice of school boards, and they'll be the ones that make that decision regardless of what teachers do." 

The federation has been neutral on whether members should accept the deal. 

According to a CP article, Cockrill’s assertion is based on teachers’ job action during the dispute eroding instructional time.  

"It's our responsibility to ensure Saskatchewan students receive the instructional hours required under legislation," Cockrill stated.  He did not confirm how much time has been lost.  

Becotte noted that two school divisions have seen five days' worth of instructional time eaten up by job action, while others were less. It is unclear how an extension of the instructional year for all schools would be made equitable given the circumstances.  

The results of the vote are expected to be released shortly after the voting results are in. If the teachers vote down the proposal, Becotte says the Federation will request the bargaining teams go back to the table. 

With files from Canadian Press.