Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili asked Premier Scott Moe earlier this week during Question Period if he will admit cutting the Northern Teacher Education Program (NORTEP) was a mistake.
“One of the premier’s first posts in cabinet was minister of advanced education and, shortly after starting that role, he signed a new five-year funding agreement with NORTEP,” he said. “Less than a year later, he walked away from his signature and eliminated funding for that program.”
Meili noted the decision to cut NORTEP had a direct result on the Northern Lights School Division’s capability to attract teachers, adding the institution had a 40-year record of training teachers and providing role models for northern youth. Meili also stated the teacher shortage in northern Saskatchewan is only going to get worse and he called upon Moe to rebuild the program.
Along with the teacher vacancies, Meili expressed concerns about a decrease in the number of people enrolled in teacher programs across the North. He said Moe was responsible for destroying a successful program, which had a 90 per cent rate of training teachers who stayed to work in northern Saskatchewan.
“The premier was warned as minister that cutting NORTEP would hurt education in the North, but he chose to ignore the voices in the community,” Meili said. “It was his signature on the funding agreement, his signature on the cancellation letter and his decision that has today’s consequences.”
In response to the questions, Minister of Advanced Education Tina Beaudry-Mellor said she was proud of the investment the provincial government was making in the North. She noted teacher programs are still available in La Ronge and La Loche, adding she heard during a visit to Northlands College in February how students are pleased with the consolidation of programming. Beaudry-Mellor said students are happy with the campus life that arose because of it.
“Students from La Loche are now able to take their first year of university without actually leaving home,” she said. “We have made a number of investments in Indigenous education across the board and we’re seeing a tremendous result from those investments.”
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