Today, NDP Leader Ryan Meili called out Education Minister Gord Wyant for his comments on the John Gormley show earlier this week. Wyant claimed that up to $200 million, the government’s entire 2020 contingency fund, which they’d spent over and over again in Question Period, could be made available to school divisions that requested it, but that “no school division has asked for any additional funding at this point in time.”
“Gord Wyant knows that what he is saying just isn’t true. He’s attempting to gaslight Saskatchewan families,” said Meili. “At no point have the Minister or the Premier indicated that more funding would be made available for schools in September. In fact they have been clear that divisions are to use ‘savings’ from the spring. Gord Wyant needs to be honest: the government has not come forward with new funding to deal with Covid-19, hobbling divisions’ ability to plan for a safe school reopening.”
Meili noted that school divisions were already forced to make cuts prior to COVID-19, with per-student funding cut by over $300 since 2015/16.
School Division officials have made it clear on the public record that the government has not come up with additional funding for this school year.
- In her report to the Board on June 16, 2020 Saskatoon Public Schools Board Chair Colleen MacPherson said that the provincial budget “is not enough to balance our budget for the coming year. Once again, we will strive to make budget decisions that have as little impact on the classroom as possible.”
- This view was also expressed by Prairie South Public Schools Trustee Tim McLeod at the June 2, 2020 meeting of the School Board: “We did not receive a meaningful increase in our funding for next year, which means we’re trying to do our best work better than each year previous with only the same amount of money ( . . .) I believe we are applying a band-aid where surgery is required.”
McLeod is a current Trustee and former Chair of Prairie South Public Schools. He is also the Sask. Party candidate in Moose Jaw North.
“The consensus is clear from school divisions and even from Sask. Party candidates: this government has failed to invest in our schools in this crucial year, when it’s needed more than ever,” said Meili. “Gord Wyant should apologize to school divisions and all Saskatchewan families for adding even more confusion in this difficult time, and finally step up with the funding required to safely reopen schools.”