Student demonstrators walked out of school and to MLA Don Morgan’s constituency office to protest the Saskatchewan government's underfunding of the education sector.
Student demonstrators walked out of school and to MLA Don Morgan’s constituency office to protest the Saskatchewan government's underfunding of the education sector. Credit: Caitlin Erickson Credit: Caitlin Erickson

As the Saskatchewan government announced their budget on March 20, teachers across the province participated in a provincewide teacher strike, withdrawing from extracurricular activities and enacting other sanctions.

Teachers have been calling for the Saskatchewan government to address issues of increasing class sizes and complexities for weeks.

Since the start of 2024 Saskatchewan teachers have taken job action in the form of strikes and sanctions. In January, teachers demonstrated their discontent in two provincewide one-day strikes and again on February 1 when they went on a rolling strike. Sanctions such as withdrawal from extracurricular activities and noon-hour supervision have been taken in order to pressure the government back to the bargaining table.

“We know that all of these actions create disruptions in the lives of students and their families,” said Samantha Becotte, president of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF), in an interview with

“While there might be some frustration about the actions, by and large, the public recognizes why teachers are taking these actions and the need to have better supports for students and for teachers and schools across Saskatchewan,” Becotte added.

Last week, teachers participated in a two-day withdrawal from extracurricular events, such as HOOPLA 2024 and the Regina Optimist Band Festival. From March 25 to March 28, six local teachers’ associations have participated in a rotational withdrawal of noon-supervision.

But students have also taken a stand to support teachers and their own education. On March 26, Aden Bowmen Collegiate students participated in a school walkout, marching from the high school to MLA Don Morgan’s southeast Saskatoon constituency office.

“Students aren’t getting the help they need because of the large class sizes. For example, in my health science class, we have 34 kids in that class. A lot of us don’t get the help we need because there’s so many people in my classroom [and] only one teacher,” said Jordyn Erickson, a grade 10 student from Aden Bowmen Collegiate.

For Erickson, she has seen firsthand the disruptions in her education experience. Last year, the school in her district could not accommodate her since there was no more classroom space. Erickson’s option was to spend one hour in school and the rest of her day attending classes remotely. She spent the remainder of her semester online and away from her peers.

“They have been directing their concerns and frustration towards the government. These students, especially the ones who are in high school, have only ever experienced a decline in support through their education—and that is on the hands of this government,” Becotte said.

“Students know that education is essential for their success into the future. And they’re frustrated in the lack of priorities that’s being placed on their education by this government,” Becotte added.

Saskatchewan Government Budget 2024–25 is misleading: Becotte

Saskatchewan government’s budget day fell on March 20—according to the government of Saskatchewan, there will be an increase of 8.1 per cent over last year’s budget with a record investment of $3.3 billion to the Ministry of Education.

“We are investing in what teachers and students have told us matter the most,” said deputy premier and finance minister, Donna Harpauer in a press release.

The government press release goes on to read:

“Overall, this budget provides $356.6 million in classroom supports, which is up $45.6 million over last year and is a significant commitment to address classroom size and complexity. This includes funding the Teacher Innovation and Support Fund Pilot and the Specialized Support Classrooms Pilot to help provide better student and teacher experiences.”

The province also announced a $2.2 billion in school operating funding across 27 Saskatchewan school divisions—an 8.8 per cent or $180 million increase from the previous year. But Becotte said that the budget announcements are misleading.

“When you factor in inflation and the enrollment growth that we’re experiencing in Saskatchewan, it’s probably going to be pretty close to a status quo budget. There might be increases to support, but it will be very minimal when those funds are spread across 27 different school divisions in Saskatchewan,” said Becotte.

The STF made calculations of their own assessment and found that the percentage of total education funding in support for learning has decreased over time from 15.1 per cent in 2017-18 to 14 per cent in 2024-25.

Unrestricted funds are another concern for STF—while school operating funding is meant to address the issue of class sizes and complexity, Becotte wants to ensure that the funds are properly allocated by including this in the collective agreement.

“That’s something that we have been talking about through the collective bargaining process is to ensure the funds are being provided to school divisions, but also that school divisions are accountable to where those funds are going,” Becotte said.

“Whether it’s a restriction on ensuring that those funds are being directed to the classroom, as well as a reporting mechanism to provide that transparency around where the funds went,” Becotte added.

Strike and sanctions are last resort—teachers pushed to this point

In 2017, the Education Act, 1995 was amended so that both parties in collective bargaining needed to agree to binding arbitration. Binding arbitration is when two parties cannot settle a dispute on their own so a neutral third-party is introduced to help come to an agreement. 

Before this amendment, only one side needed to request binding arbitration—this gave teachers the ability to settle disputes if both sides could not come to a new agreement. With the Saskatchewan government refusing to enter binding arbitration, teachers are left with little options.

“The only other option we have is to apply pressure or to move the process forward is to take job action. The government has pushed teachers to this point—they just continue to refuse to engage in meaningful conversations at the table or through the process,” Becotte said.

As for Erickson, the provincial government’s reluctance to negotiate with teachers and come to a resolution is very telling.

“I’m only a couple years away from voting, just like many of the other students who showed up at the protest. In this day and age, we all have access to technology. I can see what Premier Scott Moe and the education minister are saying about teachers—and it’s a reflection of how they feel about students in Saskatchewan,” Erickson said.

Kiah Lucero smiling and holding a camera.

Kiah Lucero

Kiah Lucero is a multimedia journalist based out of Calgary, Alta. Back in April 2020, she completed her Bachelor of Communication, majoring in journalism from Mount Royal University. Her published work...