Parent and Caregiver FAQ

The Parent and Caregivers FAQ provides information that explains the collective bargaining process and the possible use of job action by teachers. Information will be added in a timely manner in response to relevant issues and questions.

Under The Education Act, school divisions are responsible to provide the necessary level of supervision to ensure student safety. Although teachers often provide noon-hour supervision, it is not part of their contracted professional duties. As with all employees, teachers are entitled to a duty-free lunch break. If they choose to forego a lunch break to assist with student supervision, they receive compensation. In the case of job action that affects noon-hour supervision, school divisions are responsible for making parents and caregivers aware of any operational or schedule changes.

In recent years, some Saskatchewan school divisions have implemented a noon-hour supervision fee. The fee may help offset, but not fully cover, the expense of providing noon-hour supervision. In general, school boards implemented these fees to raise funds to supplement their annual budget due to inadequate funding from the provincial government. Parents and caregivers should direct questions about the use and collection of noon-hour supervision fees to their school division and elected school board trustees.

On March 8, the Government of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan School Boards Association announced a deal for classroom funding. The agreement was made outside of the ongoing collective bargaining process with teachers. In response, the STF said it is prepared to return to the table and cease sanctions immediately if government is willing to negotiate on several key issues; however, the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee continues to not have a mandate discuss those issues.

The most recent negotiations were scheduled for February 12-13; however, the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee did not come to the meeting with a mandate to address teachers’ priority issues. After being asked to seek direction from the Minister of Education in order to continue negotiations, the GTBC chose not to return to the bargaining table for the second day. A conciliator’s report released in early January stated that issues of class size and complexity can be part of collective bargaining, but the government will not discuss those issues. The Teachers’ Bargaining Committee will return to bargaining at any time, as long as government is ready to engage in constructive negotiations on the issues most important to teachers.

The steps involved in provincial collective bargaining are listed in Sections 234 to 269 of The Education Act, 1995. The Teachers’ Bargaining Committee and Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee met 10 times between May and October. In October, the government’s unwillingness to negotiate resulted in the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation declaring an impasse and requesting conciliation. Conciliation took place in December; however, there was no progress, and the conciliator declared the process had failed. Negotiations in mid February lasted less than a day after the GTBC indicated it did not have a mandate to negotiate on class size and complexity.

These negotiations are about more than teacher salaries. Teachers’ proposals address important issues including class size and complexity, violence-free classrooms, supports for students and actions to support Truth and Reconciliation. During in-person bargaining sessions, the government refused to negotiate on nine of the 10 teacher proposals and there has been negligible engagement since.

Teachers have been clear that government must improve education funding to address issues such as inadequate student supports, unsafe learning and teaching conditions, and increasing class sizes. Including this as part of a collective bargaining agreement will help ensure government accountability. Teachers are asking for a reasonable pay increase over a four-year contract that recognizes their increased workload and loss of purchasing power due to inflation.

Sanctions are any collective job action directed by the STF Executive. Sanctions may include withdrawal of voluntary services such as extracurricular programs or noon-hour supervision, work-to-rule, or a full withdrawal of professional services in the form of a strike. Job action may take place on a rotating or provincewide basis.

In October, 90 percent of teachers took part in a vote with 95 percent supporting the use of sanctions, if necessary. Teachers are committed to using all available tools before imposing sanctions.

Teachers will not accept a deal that continues the erosion of publicly funded education that strips away support services and leaves students to struggle in crowded classrooms. Sanction actions demonstrate the resolve of teachers to ensure the government addresses the crisis in education.

Teachers recognize that job action creates uncertainty for students and families and realize that sanctions cause disruption and inconvenience. Teachers want to be in classrooms helping students. Our priority is to negotiate a fair agreement.

The STF provides at least 48 hours’ notice of job action to school divisions and the public. Any job action is widely publicized and announced on the STF’s website and social media channels. School divisions are responsible for notifying school communities about the division’s response plan and any potential impact on school operations. The timing, duration or location of sanction actions may vary.

In-class learning and participation in extracurricular activities may be affected. Teachers understand this is cause for concern among students and families. However, inadequate education funding, overcrowded classrooms and a shortage of supports are hurting students. The goal of job action is to advocate for better learning and teaching conditions and compel government to provide appropriate funding that stops the erosion of publicly funded education.

Because sanction actions may vary, it’s difficult to predict how sanctions – whether a strike, withdrawal of noon-hour supervision, withdrawal of extracurricular activities or other actions – may affect operations of a particular division or school. School divisions are responsible for developing a plan to address the impact of any job action. Parents and caregivers should contact their school division for information.

Sanction action is intended to put pressure on government and school boards to return to the bargaining table to find solutions that benefit students. Volunteering to supervise students during the noon hour is an individual decision; it will help ensure student safety in the short term but may minimize the effect of the sanction imposed by teachers.

Parents hold a unique position when it comes to the conversation around publicly funded education. Advocacy can be as simple as sharing your experiences with friends, family and neighbours. You can do this by:

  • Visiting the STF Advocacy page for information.
  • Signing up for Tell Them Tuesday for opportunities to take part in actions such as contacting your MLA or sharing on social media.
  • Talking to your friends, family and neighbours about the reality in schools, what teachers are asking for and the reasons why.
  • Inviting other parents to consider how their child’s school experience compares with their own. For example, ask how many students are in their child’s class, how long waitlists are for assessments or specialized supports, or how many grades are in multi-grade classrooms.
  • Referring to the Conversation Starters postcard and the Education in Saskatchewan — Facts and Statistics sheet for accurate, updated information.
Teachers believe that class size, class complexity, supports for students and addressing violence in the classroom are priority issues for collective bargaining. Regrettably, the Government of Saskatchewan has repeatedly said it will not negotiate on issues that are crucial to teachers, students and parents. The highlights of all 10 teacher bargaining proposals are available to parents and caregivers.

Issues around class size and complexity affect schools and classrooms provincewide. The absence of a meaningful, evidence-based and actionable plan means concerns have intensified during the past decade. The report of the conciliation board agreed with teachers that learning and working conditions can be bargained at the provincial table and suggested both sides continue to talk; however, government chooses not to. Including articles about class size and complexity in the provincial agreement would provide assurance of government responsibility and accountability for the needs of students.

Teachers are taking a stand for students as local school boards have been largely unsuccessful in securing additional funding to keep pace with student needs. Parents and caregivers should contact school board trustees to ask why the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee will not address class size and complexity.

All options are on the table. Our priority is to negotiate a fair agreement – job action has always been the last resort. Sanction options include withdrawal of voluntary services such as extracurricular programs or noon-hour supervision, work-to-rule, or a full withdrawal of professional services in the form of a strike. Job action may take place on a targeted or provincewide basis. Appropriate notice (at least 48 hours) will be provided to affected school divisions as well as parents and caregivers.

The option for one party to choose binding arbitration was removed from The Education Act, 1995, by the government in 2017. Both sides must agree to binding arbitration in order for it to take place.

The government can legislate teachers back to work by passing a bill in the Saskatchewan legislature. In the view of teachers, this would be a sign that the government does not respect teachers and the collective bargaining process.

If the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee returns to the table with a new mandate to engage in negotiations that can lead to an agreement, further sanctions will not be needed. Teachers do not want to take job action and do not want to impact the learning and school experience for students; however, further actions may be necessary. Parents and caregivers should contact their school division for information about the division’s plan.