Regina Northeast Byelection

A byelection has been called in the provincial constituency of Regina Northeast. Voters will go to the polls on September 12, 2018. There are six candidates on the ballot.

The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation continues in its efforts to bring public education issues to the forefront of our political discourse. To that end, we asked each of the six candidates three questions. So far, four of the six candidates have responded. As such, we are posting those responses today. We will post other responses in the order they are received.

Our hope is that teachers, both in the constituency of Regina Northeast and across the province, will read these responses and gain a better understanding of where the parties stand on these important issues.

Here are the three questions we asked, followed by the responses from the candidates so far.

  1. What steps will you take to restore operational funding for K-12 education to levels at least equal to those seen before the 2017-18 Provincial Budget?
  2. The Ministry of Education is predicting enrolment increases of 2,700 students in Saskatchewan this year. What steps will you take to ensure public education receives sustainable funding so that these enrolment increases can be accommodated?
  3. A body known as the Provincial Leadership Team is currently in charge of strategic planning in Saskatchewan’s education sector. Yet, its terms of reference specifically preclude participation by teachers. What steps will you take to make sure teacher voice is heard when future strategic planning decisions are made?

The candidates responses are as follows:

Western Independence Party of Saskatchewan – Mark Regel

  1. What steps will you take to restore operational funding for K-12 education to levels at least equal to those seen before the 2017-18 Provincial Budget?

    I would rather see our province absorb more debt then cut our educational budget. I believe our education system needs the support of the government and the community.

    With a proper education, an individual will receive the necessary skills-which in turn will lead to a better life for everyone.  With a strong education system, we should see less crimes being committed in our province.  The crime rate is currently extremely high. 

    Another big issue with the cuts to education is keeping the educational field an attractive option for young people. If salaries are low we will not be able to attract quality teachers.

    There are more responsibilities placed on our teachers all the time and their salary increases have not reflected this increase in duties. 

  2. The Ministry of Education is predicting enrolment increases of 2,700 students in Saskatchewan this year. What steps will you take to ensure public education receives sustainable funding so that these enrolment increases can be accommodated?

    I address this with a simple formula.  If the overall percentage of new students increases by say 10 percent (or whatever percentage), this should equal the number of new educators needed. Therefore, simply put, We need to hire new teachers equivalent to the  percentage of new students in the areas in which they will be attending school.

    If there are 2700 new students they must have parents which are working and paying taxes. The money allotted to education should be proportional to the amount of students that are coming here. If we need to hire new teachers and build new schools then so be it. 

  1. A body known as the Provincial Leadership Team is currently in charge of strategic planning in Saskatchewan’s education sector. Yet, its terms of reference specifically preclude participation by teachers. What steps will you take to make sure teacher voice is heard when future strategic planning decisions are made?

    The teachers of Saskatchewan should nominate a teacher rep from each school division to participate in any talks about it's own future.

    The Government doesn't necessarily know the everyday problems/situations that teachers face at their workplace. They need to hear the voice of the people who are actively involved in this sector. 

    Excluding a teacher's voice from such a group is unacceptable. Who better then teachers would have an idea of what is needed in education? If we want to know how to build a house we don't go to a doctor to learn how. If we want to learn about welding we don't go bus driver to learn how.

    Likewise when we want to know about educational issues we should consult teachers to clarify issues.

    Yes it is important to include a variety of cultures with people from varied backgrounds but not including teachers would not be a wise decision.

    We are currently a small party in the province. We will be growing in the near future as our concerns and the concerns of our ever growing population will be brought forward.  As a political group, we understand that we need to go back to our grass roots- where the government worked for the people, and not just the people working for the government. 

Saskatchewan Liberal Party – Reid Hill

  1. What steps will you take to restore operational funding for K-12 education to levels at least equal to those seen before the 2017-2018 Provincial Budget?

    The drop in education operational spending from the 2017-2018 budget as well as previous budgets is very concerning. I and the party would like to see as close to a full restoration as possible but to see that happen there will have to be a full change into how the government spends money. Our children’s education is vital for our future and cutting education should never be on the list of things a government would cut when spending is out of control.

  1. The Ministry of Education is predicting enrolment increases in Saskatchewan this year of 2700 students. What steps will you take to assure public education receives sustainable funding so that these enrollment increases can be accommodated?

    To answer this question it is not just about funding, and back in 2016 the SK Liberals touch on it, it is about linking industry with the education system. Making sure those students especially in the high school program know about all the careers out there and are shown that there are real opportunities out there for what they are good at. Looking at them on an individual bases and see what skills they have and what they are good at not just told the cost of the degree or certificate they want to get. It means putting funding towards smaller classroom sizes and foster programs that can propel students into the workforce faster.

  1. A body known as the Provincial Leadership Team is currently in charge of strategic planning in Saskatchewan’s education sector. Yet its terms of reference specifically preclude participation by teachers. What steps will you take to make sure teacher voice is heard when future strategic planning decisions are made?

    A board like the Provincial Leadership Team on the surface should be looked at developing the province not an education systems. To develop a proper education systems any kind of leadership team should be built from parents, students, teachers and industry. These are the people who are going to foster a healthy education system.

NDP – Yens Pedersen

  1. What steps will you take to restore operational funding for K-12 education to levels at least equal to those seen before the 2017-18 Provincial Budget?

    I see education as the answer to many challenges we face as a society. When we have deficits, it is a time to reinvest in education, not make cuts. Every dollar going towards education yields strong future returns that greatly exceed the money originally invested. A strong, publicly funded public education system increases employment rates, stimulates the economy, decreases crime and breaks the cycle of poverty. Happy, healthy and productive citizens are needed for our province's growth.

    When the Saskatchewan Party made cuts to education, it was cutting from a program that was already underfunded. Not only does funding need to be restored to previous levels or greater, but teachers also deserve a fair contract that helps them meet student needs. I will keep fighting for these issues in the legislature alongside his NDP colleagues.

    This past week, the Saskatchewan Party treated fully funding the long-expired Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation Provincial Collective Bargaining Agreement as progress to be applauded. This only ads insult to injury, because this is what is expected of bargaining in good faith. I intend to keep pointing out the government's flaws in its logic.

  1. The Ministry of Education is predicting enrolment increases of 2,700 students in Saskatchewan this year. What steps will you take to ensure public education receives sustainable funding so that these enrolment increases can be accommodated?

    The Saskatchewan Party has forced school divisions to increase class sizes and eliminate specialist supports at a time when student enrolment, diversity and mental health concerns are at an all-time high. This is irresponsible.

    Opening new, unfurnished schools without adequate teaching staff was never the answer. The future of our province doesn’t depend on these buildings. It depends on quality programming planned out by the experts on education: the teachers themselves.

    I believe that funding is important at all levels, especially in the early years, before students reach Grade 3. Social, emotional and intellectual growth at this age are crucial to performance in middle years and high school. The stress a teacher faces when trying to help students with challenges after the age of eight is great.

    School divisions that see student enrolment numbers increase must be given the finances necessary to keep teacher-to-student ratios low, hire specialists and re-employ the educational consultants whose positions were eliminated.

  1. A body known as the Provincial Leadership Team is currently in charge of strategic planning in Saskatchewan’s education sector. Yet, its terms of reference specifically preclude participation by teachers. What steps will you take to make sure teacher voice is heard when future strategic planning decisions are made?

    I strongly believe that teachers should be treated as professionals. Creating boards that do not reflect and represent teacher voices is not only irresponsible, but also disrespectful to the profession as a whole. It weakens relationships between the government and the STF. Teachers' voices must be sought out when making changes.

    However, time and time again, we have seen the STF shutout of decision-making processes. Talks about curriculum changes, student evaluation, classroom resources, teacher accreditation, teacher professionalism and teacher governance have taken place that lacked adequate consultation. These undemocratic processes must stop. If elected, I will join my NDP colleagues who are already fighting hard in the legislature to keep the Saskatchewan Party accountable.

Saskatchewan Party – Gary Grewal

  1. What steps will you take to restore operational funding for K-12 education to levels at least equal to those seen before the 2017-18 Provincial Budget?

    One of the first actions Premier Scott Moe and the Saskatchewan Party government took following his swearing-in was to invest an additional $30 million in education, thus fulfilling his first campaign promise.

    This funding has allowed school divisions to hire and retain professionals such as teachers and educational assistants who support our classrooms and, most importantly, our children’s learning. For example, the Regina Public School Division announced, following the immediate mid-year investment, that the new funding allowed them to hire 32.5 new full-time equivalents.

    Premier Moe also stated that the government is committed to fully funding the costs of your new contract when the arbitration process is complete so that valuable resources are not diverted from your classrooms.

  1. The Ministry of Education is predicting enrolment increases of 2,700 students in Saskatchewan this year. What steps will you take to ensure public education receives sustainable funding so that these enrolment increases can be accommodated?

    One of the reasons I chose to run for the Saskatchewan Party is their demonstrated commitment to funding the human services. Since 2007, funding for education has more than doubled, operating funding to school divisions has increased by over 35 percent and there are more than 800 new teachers working in our classrooms.  Twelve new schools have been built here in Regina, and operating funding for the Regina Public and Catholic school divisions are up 41 and 42 percent, respectively. These investments are a demonstrable example of the Saskatchewan Party’s support and commitment to a vibrant education sector in our province.

  1. A body known as the Provincial Leadership Team is currently in charge of strategic planning in Saskatchewan’s education sector. Yet, its terms of reference specifically preclude participation by teachers. What steps will you take to make sure teacher voice is heard when future strategic planning decisions are made?

    Premier Scott Moe recently had the opportunity to speak to local teachers where he stated that as we approach the end of the first Education Sector Strategic Plan, the government will look to reset goals. That cannot be done without the input of teachers. He went on to assure those in attendance that teachers will have a seat at the table and will have ongoing input into this process; the Minister of Education has been tasked with seeing this commitment through. The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation will be an important partner at the Education Summit planned for the fall of 2018.

Saskatchewan Green Party – Jessica Schroeder

Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan – Ken Grey