March 23, 2017
Our family is an ‘education’ family.
Yesterday, my children were learning in their Kindergarten and Grade 2 classes while my wife was down the hall teaching her own group of Kindergartens. For my part, I taught three classes at the University of Saskatchewan- a first year course, a third year course, and a fourth year seminar.
Day in and day out, all four of us are very involved in our province’s education sector. So, when the Sask Party government cut 6.7% of our province’s overall spending on education in yesterday’s budget, it really hit home for me. That cut directly affects my children, my wife, and my students.
The most disturbing part of the cut is that it comes on top of years of chronic underfunding of education by the Sask Party government. All levels of education have been affected.
In terms of early childhood education and care, reports from the CRRU have consistently shown that Saskatchewan ranks last among all provinces when it comes to availability of regulated spaces. After ten years of Sask Party, there are regulated childcare spaces for only 12% of Saskatchewan children aged 0-5…half the national average. Yet, year after year, the needs of the childcare sector have been ignored in provincial budgets.
The $22 million cut to our province's K-12 system in yesterday’s budget is on top of the billions that the Sask Party has already ripped out of the education system. A report that I published with the CCPA last year found that “If the Wall government had decided to continue to fund K-12 education in Saskatchewan at the same percentage of provincial GDP as the last four years of the Calvert government, there would have been approximately $2.4 billion more spent in the K-12 system from 2008 to 2014.”
The University of Saskatchewan has been very hard hit by cuts. In last year’s budget, the U of S agreed to receive a one-time reduction of $20 million to its annual grant. In December of last year, the Sask Party cut an additional $9.8 million. Speaking to the CBC, U of S President Peter Stoicheff called yesterday’s 5.6% decrease in the U of S budget “largest single budget cut we've ever had in our history.”
Why does the Saskatchewan Party continually make cuts to education that jeopardize the future of our children?
Well, budgets are about choices. And, it instructive to examine the choices made by the Sask Party in yesterday’s budget.
The government chose to enact destructive cuts to education. At the same time, it chose to decrease the personal income tax rate of the wealthiest taxpayers from 15% to 14% and chose to reduce the tax rate of large corporations from 12% to 11%.
We can only conclude from the choices made in this budget that the Sask Party makes cuts to education because they care more about the protecting the interests of corporations and the wealthy than they do about future of our children.
They care more about increasing corporate profits and fattening the bank accounts of the rich than they do about building a quality education system in Saskatchewan that allows all children to reach their highest potential.
They care more about the bottom line of the businesses, many of which who are headquarted outside of the province, that donated millions to the Sask Party over the last ten years than ensuring that every student has the opportunity to succeed.
We need to take back Saskatchewan! We need a government that invests in education and invests in the future of our children and our students!
If you are upset and angry about the cuts to education in this budget, there is something that you can do.
The Saskatchewan NDP is building a movement to oppose this government’s destructive agenda of cuts for the average person and tax give aways for corporations and the wealthy.
But, a political party is only as strong as its members, volunteers, and supporters.
Visit www.saskndp.ca to sign up as a member, donate, or find out about events and volunteering opportunities.
With your help we can beat the Sask Party in the next election and give the people of Saskatchewan the government that they deserve!