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Education suffers in Saskatchewan budget

By Frank Flegel

03/29/2017

REGINA — The March 22 Saskatchewan budget has some not-so-obvious impacts that will be felt not too far down the road. Social Services and Health each received more money, but some programs within those budgets will be cut or diminished when the legislation enabling the government to implement the budget is introduced in the future.

Education, the third of the big three in the budget, took some big hits with K-12 education dropping 1.2 per cent and post-secondary institutions getting a five per cent cut in their operating budgets. Post-secondary institutions will likely see tuition increases and possibly some programs may have to be dropped in order to cope with the reduction in their grants.

School board boundaries won’t change and elected trustees will remain, but the government intends to limit the number of trustees in each school division and compensation packages for trustees and education administrators may be capped at a yet-to-be-named number. Saskatchewan School Boards Association president Shawn Davidson said school boards will be assessing the cuts on their divisions and he expects some may have to reduce staff.

United Church minister Peter Gilmer of the Regina Anti-poverty Ministry is worried “the worst is yet to come.” Besides the cuts already announced, he fears the announced Social Services Review will target basic home repairs for people on assistance, special needs diets for some people; school supplies may also be cut.

Gilmer said the $20 per month reduction in the Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA) “was already the least adequate of the programs at $583 per month for basic needs plus utilities. So it’s targeting the poorest of the poor.”

Gilmer noted that the government in 2004 expanded the TEA program that took people off the traditional Saskatchewan Assistance Plan and put them on TEA. “In 2004 there were about 1,500 on SAP and now there are more than 5,000 on TEA receiving the basic allowance.

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