Inflation is hurting schools in Manitoba and Saskatchewan

School divisions in Saskatchewan and Manitoba will be slashing jobs and cutting costs because the budgets they have to work with haven’t kept up with inflation, even though both provinces provided an increase in funding to education this year.

Hello Flatlanders,

School divisions in Saskatchewan and Manitoba will be slashing jobs and cutting costs because the budgets they have to work with haven’t kept up with inflation, even though both provinces provided an increase in funding to education this year.

Education is expensive. Manitoba schools will receive about $120 million more for the 2022/23 school year. In total, the province will spend about $3.4 billion for kindergarten to Grade 12 education.

The raise is no match for inflation. The new provincial funding is a 2.9 per cent increase. Inflation in Canada is 6.8 per cent.

Food and utility costs are skyrocketing. The Manitoba School Boards Association noted the price of natural gas needed to heat classrooms, to the fuel required to operate school buses, to food expenses for meal programs, has gone up significantly.

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A similar situation in Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan government increased the budget for education this year by 1.3 per cent or $472 million. In total, the province allocated about $3.8 billion to education, a similar amount to Manitoba’s education budget.

Could Saskatchewan afford more for education? The Saskatchewan government increased the education property tax mill rate by 2.6 per cent this year, which means Saskatchewan residents and businesses are paying 2.6 per cent more in taxes that go towards education. Therefore, some have argued, the increase going to schools should be 2.6 per cent, not 1.3 per cent.

Provincial education advocates are not impressed. The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation and the Saskatchewan School Boards Association were disappointed with the small increase.

No money for student enrollment increases. The Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools projects their enrollment will increase this coming fall by 400 students, which isn’t accounted for in the provincial budget.  

Cutting costs. Local school boards have been working to reduce building, office and transportation costs, all of which have been impacted by inflation. Despite this, administration is concerned they won’t have the dollars left over to invest in services and supports for students.

GETTY IMAGES

Jobs to be lost. To date, four Saskatchewan school divisions have announced they will be cutting a total of 100 education jobs because of budget shortfalls.

Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools:

  • Cutting 19.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions.

Saskatoon Public Schools: 

  • Cutting 12.7 FTE positions in elementary schools.
  • Cutting 6.9 positions in secondary schools.
  • Cutting one educational psychologist position, one English as an additional language teaching position and half of a speech language pathologist position.

Chinook School Division:

  • Cutting 20 teaching positions.

 South East Cornerstone Public School Division:

  • Cutting 21.8 FTE teaching jobs, 2 consultants in early literacy and curriculum.
  • Cutting 11.6 non-teaching jobs (education psychologists, caretakers etc.).

A case study: South East Cornerstone Public School Division

Splitting up funds over a large area.
 The South East Cornerstone Public School Division was given a budget of $96 million to operate its 36 schools located close to the Manitoba border to Ogema in the west and from the U.S. border to Rocanville in the north. This is an increase of $1.6 million from the last school year.

Extra money. The school division is also eligible tor receive an additional $240,00 from the province’s targeted classroom supports fund to hire more educational assistants. 

It sounds like a lot of money, but the school division’s insurance has increased by 36 per cent; fuel is up 13 per cent and bus repairs and maintenance have increased by 20 per cent.

Breaking open the piggy bank. The school division will dip into its accumulated surplus to pay for the $2.5-million deficit, but the surplus is dwindling — from $22.2 million in fiscal 2020-2021 to $14.4 million by the end of 2023 if the budgeted deficits are realized. Normally, the surplus would go towards capital projects.

More schools could cut jobs. All school divisions have until June 30 to submit their budgets. For instance, Regina Catholic Schools hasn’t approved its budget yet, but its proposed budget shows it plans to cut 13 teaching positions if the budget is passed. 

Manitoba could follow suit. It’s anticipated that many Manitoba school divisions, especially those in rural areas, will also likely be cutting staff and services.


Five stories from Manitoba you may have missed

  1. Highway 6 at the Fairford Dam will be blockaded beginning Monday to demand justice for children who died in residential schools.
  2. The artwork of Rolling Stones’ guitarist Ronnie Wood is on display in Winnipeg.
  3. Manitoba launched a new resource for people suffering from long COVID.
  4. The Forks is taking a new approach to July 1 celebrations this year.
  5. Former fashion mogul Peter Nygard is facing two more charges of sexual assault involving two new complainants in Toronto.

Five stories from Saskatchewan you may have missed

  1. RCMP are searching for a stolen house in Saskatchewan.
  2. A fossilized smooth-shelled turtle discovered in Saskatchewan turns out to be a new species.
  3. How Much Punishment Is Enough for the Driver Who Caused the Humboldt Crash?
  4. battery storage system in Regina will play a role in helping hit net-zero goal.
  5. Evraz says it could lay off close to 250 employees

Photo of the week

Pinawa Suspension Bridge in Manitoba. GETTY IMAGES.  

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Thanks for reading, and kind regards,

Kelly-Anne Riess

Important work at a critical time.

Over the last 20 years, on the Prairies and beyond,  local newsrooms have shrunk, which means not much investigative journalism gets done in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The Flatlander is changing this.

 

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