The province has made a three-year contract offer to Saskatchewan’s teachers that includes a $1,500 one-time payment per full-time teacher.

The second and third years of the contract each include a two per cent salary increase.

“It’s a five per cent wage increase for teachers over the next three years. We think the offer is fair, we think it’s respectful of teachers, having regard to the fact that we also have responsibility to the taxpayer,” Education Minister Gordon Wyant said.

Saskatchewan teachers would to continue to be paid above the western Canadian average under the deal, he said.

The deal does not address the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation's concerns over class size and composition, as that’s not something the province and the STF can negotiate, Wyant said.

“Based on the legislation that’s something that gets negotiated at the local level and so it’s not something we will give any consideration to at this table. But that’s not to say we’re not interested, we are very interested in trying to deal with some of the issues teachers are facing in their classrooms and composition is one of them,” Wyant said.

STF President Patrick Maze said he doesn't know where Wyant is getting that information.

“Two sides can negotiate anything they want at the bargaining table, there’s nothing preventing it from being negotiated at the provincial table. We have local agreements and I would argue that the local table is the absolute worst place to negotiate around class size and composition, those discussions should happen at the provincial table.”

The Government Trustee Bargaining Committee (GTBC), made up of representatives from the Government of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, met with the Teachers’ Bargaining Committee to begin negotiations on a new contract.

The $1,500 payments, which total $18 million, would be paid for with repurposed extended health plan contributions, reducing the plan’s $80 million surplus. Teachers working less than a full-time contract would receive a prorated amount.

Teachers received a one per cent salary increase on Aug. 31, the last day of the previous agreement.

“The Government Trustee Bargaining Committee is looking forward to working together with the Saskatchewan Teacher's Federation over the coming days and weeks to reach a fair deal for teachers,” GTBC Chair Don Hoium said in a news release.