This time last year, on National Aboriginal Day, the Sask. Party joined with the Saskatchewan NDP and called on the federal government to eliminate the education funding gap for on-reserve students. Instead of keeping their promise and being ‘vigilant’ with the federal government, the Sask. Party actually cut provincial funding for Indigenous students.
“All students in Saskatchewan are entitled to quality education,” said NDP Education Critic Carla Beck. “On-reserve funding is technically the responsibility of the federal government but it is the provincial government’s job to stand up for all kids in Saskatchewan. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen that from the Sask. Party.”
Since making their promise, and despite picking fights with Ottawa on several other issues, the Sask. Party has done little to back up their commitment to kids in Saskatchewan with any action and is getting no results for Saskatchewan people. Worse, the Sask. Party’s cuts to education have already resulted in the elimination of 12 Aboriginal student retention workers in Saskatoon and reduced resources in classrooms are impacting Indigenous students across the province.
The education gap – the funding of children in First Nations schools at only about 60 per cent of the funding of other children – doesn’t just hurt Saskatchewan kids. A Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority report published last year estimated that the aboriginal education gap costs the province over a billion dollars in lost economic impact every year.
“The human cost to our kids should be reason enough to do the right thing, but the fact is, these cuts and this dramatic underfunding are also hurting the economy and blocking important economic opportunities,” said Beck. “Every child in Saskatchewan deserves an equal opportunity to succeed. Instead of cutting more and more from all of our kids’ classrooms, we need to close the education funding gap by ensuring adequate funding for all children in Saskatchewan. If the federal government won’t fulfill their commitments and responsibilities, we should do it ourselves and send Ottawa the bill.”