Opposition leader Carla Beck spoke in Moose Jaw on February 6 across from Saint Agnes School. The conference centered around Ashley Harrower, a mother of a child with autism spectrum disorder, voicing concerns about support for children with special needs within the school system.  

“My son was diagnosed just after his fourth birthday in July of 2022. I pushed to have him diagnosed before starting school because I knew that having a diagnosis meant more funding to support his complex needs.” Harrower said during the conference. 

Despite the efforts of teachers and staff to address her son’s needs, and those of similar children, Harrower worries that without support her son may fall behind. 

The Ministry of Education has provided a statement in response to Tuesday's press conference:  

Since 2016-17, the total number of classroom teachers has increased by nearly 120 FTEs. There were 9,477.2 FTEs in 2016-17 and there were 9,595.7 FTEs in 2023-24. There were 179,707 students in 2016-17 and there were 195,582 students in 2023-24. 

The 9,595.7 FTE number is calculated by taking the total for Regular Classroom Teaching FTE for 2023-24 and adding the total for Distance Learning Teaching FTE for 2023-24 as recorded on page 1 of the most recently available Education Sector Staffing Profile, which can be found here: https://publications.saskatchewan.ca/#/products/79711. These categories reflect the number of instructional teachers. 

Since 2007, we have increased school operating funding by $665 million, a 47 per cent increase, while enrolment has increased by just 16 per cent. 

There were almost 4,500 educational assistants (EAs) working in Saskatchewan schools for the 2023-24 school year. This is an increase of nearly 400 compared to the 2022-23 school year, and almost 700 more in the past two years. Since 2016-17, EAs have increased by 1,089 or 76 per cent. 

In Saskatchewan, education is a shared responsibility. While government provides funding to school divisions, they are responsible to make staffing and programming decisions within their allocated budget to meet local priorities and address the needs of their students and staff. 

The Government of Saskatchewan is providing school divisions with $2.08 billion in school operating funding for 2023-24 school year, an increase of $89.4 million or 4.5 per cent, over the 2022-23 school year. This includes an additional $40 million that was announced in June specifically to help support school divisions with enrolment growth and complexity of today’s classrooms. Government recently announced an additional $3.6 million to fund the specialized support classroom pilot and $2.5 million to fund the new Teacher Innovation and Support Fund.