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Sask. teachers return to the picket lines

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Members of the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation (STF) hit the picket line on Thursday in the first of a series of one day strikes.

The job action involved 3,000 teachers’ association members and affected classes for roughly 35,000 students in communities across the province, including Moose Jaw, Prince Albert and North Battleford.

Jean-Marc Belliveau, president of the Prince Albert Teachers’ Association, says the STF is fighting for properly funded education.

“We’re doing this so the government starts listening, this is our third round and we just want what’s best for students and what’s best for schools,” Belliveau said.

The STF has threatened to engage in job action until the Saskatchewan government agrees to discuss classroom sizes and supports for students with complex needs at the bargaining table.

This is the third strike by Saskatchewan teachers in three weeks. More than 13,000 teachers walked off the job province-wide for one-day strikes on Jan. 16 and Jan. 22.

Tim Strom, a parent and teacher in Prince Albert, expressed his concern with the quality of education students are receiving because of larger class sizes.

“My daughter has 38 kids in her English class,” Strom said. “Teachers struggle everyday just to get everything done and try to make education the best for every kid it could be and in order to do that there needs to be more funding.”

In a statement to CTV News, the Ministry of Education says the government is actively working to address concerns around class size and complexity.

The statement said a fair deal for teachers must also be a fair deal for taxpayers, and argued Saskatchewan taxpayers already contribute the most per capita to education in the country.

The ministry has consistently maintained that decisions around class size should be left to the local school divisions, even following a December meeting with a third-party conciliator that ruled the issue could be bargainable under Saskatchewan legislation.

Belliveau told CTV News he does not believe the government is following the proper negotiation and bargaining process.

“Going forward I would like to see the government come back to the table,” Belliveau said.

The province and teachers have been at a standstill since October following initial bargaining talks in May of 2023.

-With files from Drew Postey and Josh Lynn

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