MLA Report - May 9, 2011

May 9, 2011

Our government and all Saskatchewan people value the important service that teachers provide in educating our children. That said we cannot accept the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation's (STF) demands for a 12 per cent increase in one year. The Government Trustee Bargaining Committee (GTBC) has made a fair, reasonable and competitive offer of a 5.5 per cent salary increase over three years.

It's disappointing that the STF took strike action this week instead of allowing their members to vote on the GTBC offer. Not only are children being denied valuable classroom time, hundreds of Grade 12 students are also faced with the prospect of being denied their graduation, something many have looked forward to for years.

Currently, a starting teacher with a four-year degree in Saskatchewan earns $46,419, which is $1,000 more than the average of all Canadian provinces. The average starting salary for a teacher with a four-year degree in western Canada is $47,635. Under the offer made by the GTBC, the starting salary for a teacher in Saskatchewan would be more than $49,000.

Veteran teachers will also benefit from the current contract offer. Under its terms, a teacher with 15 years of service will earn more than $77,000. That is significantly more than the average salary of $73,929 for experienced teachers elsewhere in western Canada. Currently, a veteran teacher in Saskatchewan earns $73,036, which is about $3,000 more than the average of all Canadian provinces.

The STF often uses Alberta as the model for teachers' salaries. Alberta teachers work 20 per cent more hours than those in Saskatchewan. However, Alberta teachers are currently facing massive layoffs because of a contract agreement that school divisions cannot afford. In British Columbia, teachers are facing an offer with zero per cent increases.

The teachers' union left the bargaining table when their 12 per cent wage increase was not met. We recognize and value the important work teachers do. We would like to see the STF return to the table to continue contract negotiations.

In conclusion, education as a whole is a priority for our government. Each year the education budget has increased more than inflation, and our government has invested a record $422 million in capital projects, including badly-needed new schools, which were sadly neglected under the NDP. In addition, school divisions have seen their operating funding increase by 15 per cent in four years. Teachers are part of this equation and a fair, reasonable and competitive negotiated contract settlement is in the interest of all.

For more information about, please visit, www.skteacherbargaining.ca.