With $54.2 million cut from K-12 education funding last year, the restoration of $34 million in last week’s budget maintains a $20 million cut to K-12 education, despite increased student enrollment. The operating funding for school divisions remains $10.5 million below 2015/16 levels, despite an increase of almost 9,000 students and 18 new schools opened.
“In addition, the government built 9 joint P3 schools between 2015 and 2017, even though both Alberta and Manitoba have found P3 schools cost far more than the traditional route. The maintenance costs and interest costs for the new P3 schools, meanwhile, is up 39% in this budget, from $9.7 million to $13.5 million. This will be a line item in the budget for the next 30 years and there is no way of knowing how much these costs will increase over that period,” says Jackie Christianson, Chairperson of the CUPE Saskatchewan Education Workers Steering Committee, which represents over 7,000 education support workers across the province.
The provincial budget also eliminated the General Proficiency Award program, erasing rewards for 500 promising students. At the same time, increased funding was allocated to private (Independent and Associate) schools. Since 2012, public funding has increased 90% for Independent schools and 29% for Associate schools. “Budget decisions such as this make you wonder why these schools are getting significant increases while public schools are suffering,” says Christianson.
The 2018-19 Saskatchewan provincial budget was released on April 10, 2018.
CUPE members will see four takeaways from the provincial budget that maintains many of the drastic cuts from last year’s budget. CUPE Research provides a detailed analysis of the Saskatchewan provincial budget by sector.
Tom Graham, President, CUPE Saskatchewan
Last year’s provincial budget introduced some of the most dramatic cuts to Saskatchewan’s public services and social safety net since the years of Grant Devine. Across the province, people spoke up for their communities. Everyday Saskatchewan people lobbied, petitioned, rallied, marched, and demonstrated in defense of libraries, K-12 education, universities, municipal services, health care, rural bus service, early childhood supports, funeral services for low-income people, and more.
As a result, the Saskatchewan Party government was forced to listen and walk back some of the cuts. But many of those devastating cuts remain in place.
“At the same time last year’s budget introduced sweeping cuts and proposed rollbacks, on the revenue side, the increase in sales and consumption taxes hit workers and everyday people the hardest,” says Tom Graham, President of CUPE Saskatchewan.
“What we would have liked to see in this year’s budget is a move toward fair taxation, where big corporations and the wealthiest residents pay their fair share. The reason consumption taxes are called ‘regressive’ is because they hit the people with the least money the hardest,” says Graham.
On behalf of 30,000 CUPE members across Saskatchewan, we mourn in solidarity with the victims and families touched by the Humboldt Broncos Jr ‘A’ Hockey Club bus tragedy resulting from a collision over the weekend on Friday, April 6, 2018 at the intersection of Highway 35 and Highway 335 approximately 30 kilometers north of Tisdale as the team was travelling by bus headed to Nipawin. Of the 29 people aboard, 15 lives have been lost and many others remain in hospital with serious injuries. We will always remember the young lives of the Humboldt Broncos that have been lost too soon and the lives of the bus driver, coaches, athletic therapist, statistician and radio announcer.
We know there is comfort and strength in the power of community as we all join together to share in the grief of this tragedy, offer out heartfelt condolences to the families who have lost a loved one and extend our support to those being cared for in hospital forever hopeful that they will recover.
Despite increased student enrollment, K-12 Education in Saskatchewan has been underfunded for years. Last year’s Saskatchewan Party budget doubled down with a dramatic $54.2 million in cuts to Saskatchewan schools and classroom supports. Annual funding was slashed by $500.00 for every student. At the same time, the government raised $67 million in education property taxes that was funneled into general revenue instead of into education.
“After last year’s budget, programs for intensive needs pre-school children were eliminated, teachers and support staff positions were cut, student transportation was reduced, and the days and hours of work of many support staff, who already had low wages, were slashed,” says Jackie Christianson, Chair of the CUPE Saskatchewan Education Workers’ Steering Committee, which represents over 7,000 education support workers across the province.
There have been cuts and/or reduced hours for front-line staff across school divisions including Chinook, Good Spirit, Horizon, Prairie South, Prairie Spirit, Prairie Valley, Regina Public, Saskatchewan Rivers, Saskatoon Public, St Paul’s RCSSD, and Sun West.
“All evidence shows P3s are more expensive, less accountable and transparent than traditional ways of building public infrastructure. In fact, our government is on the hook for about $5 billion in payments to P3 companies over the next 30 years,” writes CUPE Saskatchewan President Tom Graham in a letter to the editor published in the Regina Leader-Post and Saskatoon StarPhoenix. “The Sask. Party would be wise to abandon this model, save money in the long run and invest more in public services.”
Tom Graham, President (left); M. Goll, Award Recipient (centre); Judy Henley, Secretary-Treasurer (right)
Since first becoming a CUPE member in 1981 when she began working in health care at the Meadow Lake hospital, Marilyn Goll has been active on her local union’s executive and dedicated to helping fellow members.
Goll recalls her first case as a union executive member involved appealing the denial of disability benefits on behalf of a member, and the early successful appeal and satisfaction of restoring benefits for a member and their family has motivated Goll throughout her career to be actively involved in CUPE. For Goll, the joy of helping others you work alongside and looking out for their well-being is what makes a union a strong family. Continue reading
Members of CUPE Local 4689 and the employer, South East Cornerstone Public School Division, have ratified a new two-year collective agreement. Negotiations took place in the context of the provincial government’s mandated 3.5% wage rollback and employer proposals of zero-percent wage increases.
The two-year agreement includes a lump sum payment of 1% for 2016 and a wage increase of 1% for 2017. Further gains in the agreement include an additional day for family illness, increased use of personal days, and new language addressing violence in the work place as well as expanded occupational health and safety language and better layoff provisions. Total monetary increases are estimated to be +3.32% over two years. Continue reading
The Executive Board and Members of former CUPE Local 5111, representing health care workers in the Prairie North Health Region located in the northwest part of central Saskatchewan, were awarded the Woodrow Stanley Lloyd Award for Collective Action on March 8, 2018 during CUPE Saskatchewan’s Convention 2018.
Tom Graham was re-elected as President of CUPE Saskatchewan at Convention 2018 held on March 7 to 9, 2018 in Saskatoon.
Graham has served in the position of President of CUPE Saskatchewan Division since 1998. Previous to serving as chief spokesperson and representative of CUPE Saskatchewan, Graham was President of CUPE Local 859 (Saskatoon Municipal Workers) from 1996 – 2004. Continue reading