The Saskatchewan Teachers Federation is making a push for inclusion of the singular sticking point in its contract negotiations with the provincial government and the Government Trustee Bargaining Committee –  class size and complexity. 

While the government has insisted it will not fold the item into teachers’ contract negotiations, it has worked independently with the Saskatchewan School Boards Association on a funding formula that might form the basis for a solution.  

On the morning of Thursday, March 14, the STF issued a statement that it is ready to pursue binding arbitration with the government’s agreement. It warns that if something isn’t done, and soon, to warrant a return to the table, its escalating job action might threaten key extra-curricular events such as Hoopla, the provincial high school basketball championships. It says if the government agrees to proceed with binding arbitration, it will suspend job action.  

The STF release notes that in 2017, the government amended The Education Act, 1995 by removing the option for binding arbitration if requested by one party; however, if both parties agree to binding arbitration there is nothing preventing the use of this resolution method. 

“We are putting forward a fair, objective and neutral path to resolve this single-issue dispute. If government agrees to binding arbitration for class size and complexity, we will return to negotiations and all extracurricular activities, including Hoopla, band festivals, trips and graduation celebrations, can proceed,” says Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation President Samantha Becotte. “To put this in clear terms: if government refuses binding arbitration, then Minister Cockrill and Premier Moe are choosing to cancel school trips, graduation planning, band festivals, Hoopla and so many more of this year’s activities that bring joy to our students and school communities.” 

While the arbitrator works on a binding decision on class size and complexity, which both sides, by definition, would subsequently agree to, the STF says negotiations could continue for all other items.  

The STF highlights the importance of government agreeing before Sunday, March 17. As the STF has stated previously, sanction actions will increase as the impasse continues and many important extracurricular activities and events are fast approaching, starting with Hoopla next week. 

“We’re asking Minister Cockrill to agree so that we can reach resolution,” said Becotte. “Every day the Minister delays his decision means students are missing out on more activities, lost deposits and the cancellation of events.” 

While awaiting the government’s response, the STF, in its release, encourages parents and supporters to continue contacting school board trustees and MLAs.