STF Calls for Immediate Steps by Government to Solve Northern Teacher Shortage

September 19, 2018
Saskatoon, SK

Patrick Maze, President of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation, today called on the Education Minister to take immediate steps to deal with this year’s chronic staff shortage in northern schools.

“I was angered reading yesterday’s stories about the frustration now being felt in these schools – the planning and preparation that has gone out the window, and the students who will go without much needed, extra help in math and reading,” Maze said.

“In a province so rich in resources and with our long history of commitment to public education everywhere, you shouldn’t have northern principals in the first weeks of school asking themselves ‘how am I going to do this?’ It’s not right, and it needs to be fixed quickly.”

Maze says there are steps that can be taken in the short term. The Ministry of Education should step in to find and pay for extra bodies to work in classrooms on an interim basis.

“The long-term solution is for this government to immediately restore funds cut in education which prompted the short-sighted and damaging cancellation of the Northern Teacher Education Program (NORTEP) that allowed education students to train in the north,” Maze said. “Now we have children in our north suffering the consequences of this government’s poor decisions.”

NORTEP graduated its last class in the summer of 2017. The Ministry of Education decided that Northlands College would administer an education program in the north. Critics of the move say there are now fewer students registered because of confusion over the availability of housing and financial assistance.

The Northern Lights School Division started the year short 14 teachers. It is still searching for 10 teachers to fill vacant positions, according to media reports.

“This is not a time for government complacency and inaction, it’s time for the Minister to do something,” Maze said.  “Take steps to deal with the immediate consequences of your actions, admit you made mistakes and fix them.”