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Letter to the Editor: Education Matters

A letter to the editor from Renee Harrison

I would like to take a moment to share with you my thoughts on teachers striking outside the legislative building during the budget release. 

Today, I acknowledge that preparing a budget for a province with diverse needs can be tricky. Let's take a moment to bring awareness to a few of the demands and supports needed to make our province strong. Based on the 2023-24 budget, these are the top 5 primary expenses (rounded down):

  • Health - 7 billion
  • Education - 4 billion
  • Social Services and Assistance - 1.6 billion
  • Agriculture - 1.4 billion
  • Protection of Persons and Property - 9.6 million

I don't think anyone would argue that Healthcare and Protection are important to all individuals in the province. Saskatchewan also significantly advocates for Agriculture, although only a small portion of the province sees direct benefit. Where do Education and Social Services and Assistance fit into our needs-based view? They, arguably, are some of the most debated topics when it comes to funding.

As a teacher of about 20 years, I feel comfortable sharing an educational perspective. For many of those years, I was a career counsellor who worked very closely with students in understanding course needs and preparing for future goals. I loved what I did because students got excited about what they could achieve. I helped them to see that they could make things happen, even when the odds were stacked against them. 

A number of years ago, my school administrator came up to me and said, "I can hire three of you for the salary I pay you." This put everything I did, thrived on, into simply monetary terms. It communicated so much in that single sentence and reflects the problem in our system today. While I was replaced by a cheaper individual (just one, not three), that individual was not prepared to do the job. Her training took more than a year, and to this day more than 4 years later, she still asks me questions. She has learned a lot and definitely knows more than me about what is happening now within this role, since I have been away from it so long, but she fully acknowledges that there is a lot of learning needed to be a proper support for her students.

The education system has had to make a lot of decisions over the years in order to get by with the budgets available. Some of the decisions worked out after a time, but many have resulted in chronic problems, including the ones the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation is fighting to have implemented today. 

Four billion dollars does seem like a lot, but it is important to keep in mind the sheer magnitude of resources that are needed to make education effective for all students. As we learn of the upcoming budget details, I encourage people to keep in mind that all parts of the education system need to be properly funded so that each student has the chance to reach their goals. 


Renee Harrison

A Proud Teacher

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication. 



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