Saskatchewan’s top two political leaders are hot on the campaign trail this Easter weekend as the election enters the home stretch.
Cam Broten painted Easter eggs with a group of Saskatoon children and talked about funding for schools on Saturday.
He reiterated his party’s platform promises to hire 300 teachers and 300 educational assistants over four years, double funding for early childhood intervention programs, increase early childhood development programs and reduce class sizes to 20 students starting with Kindergarten through Grade 2.
“What we need to be doing is putting money into education. We need to be hiring, not firing, and that’s very much what our plan is about,” Broten said.
He said his party would fund many of its promises by finding efficiency within current government structures and cutting what they consider wasteful spending programs such as LEAN, Public Private Partnerships and travel budgets.
Broten also criticized the Saskatchewan Party for spending $3.609 billion on education this year instead of their initial budget projection of $3.661 billion made last March. The reduction equals 1.4 per cent of the total education budget.
“It’s a $51.3 million reduction from what was put in the budget to what was presented in the (third quarter) report,” Broten said. “They don’t want Saskatchewan people to see about these cuts. They don’t want them to know what’s going on. They’ve gone so far as to criticize school divisions for talking about these cuts saying an election is no time to talk about that. Well I say that’s rubbish.”
Sask. Party leader Brad Wall said the $51.3 million was a savings on administration costs and did not count towards expenditures.
“We wanted to save administration costs related to education and not affect the classroom,” Wall said from Ken Cheveldayoff’s campaign office in Saskatoon. “The operating monies that go to the classroom have not been cut.”
The province spent $3.561 billion on education last year and $3.498 billion in 2014.
The Prairie Spirit School Division sent a letter to parents this week warning them the division needs $3 million more in the next budget or they may have to layoff as many as 75 full time positions. Wall said the division’s funding has risen 30 per cent over the last eight years while enrollment went up 21 per cent.
Wall spent the majority of his Saskatoon rally talking about his record in office.
“We’ve never claimed perfection or that the work is complete, but ours is a proven record,” Wall said.
The party leaders have nine more days to convince Saskatchewan residents to vote for them on April 4.