Sask. NDP says substitute teachers need paid sick leave and cohorting

The Saskatchewan NDP is calling on the provincial government to guarantee paid sick days and cohorting for substitute teachers headed back to the classroom.

'There won't be enough subs,' warns one who is opting out of teaching

The Saskatchewan NDP says the provincial government should guarantee paid sick leave for substitute teachers. (Halfpoint/Shutterstock)

The Saskatchewan NDP is calling on the provincial government to guarantee paid sick days and cohorting for substitute teachers headed back to the classroom.

NDP education critic Carla Beck hosted a video news conference on Tuesday joined by Deborah Bidulka and Jo-Anne Barber, two substitute teachers who have decided not to teach this fall.

"Without cohorting substitute teachers and addressing class size, there's just no way it's safe, and I worry about how schools will function without us," said Barber, who is retired and has subbed for two years.

She said a sub who gets COVID-19 won't get sick leave or long-term disability.

"The reality is, there won't be enough subs. We don't feel safe," she said.

Barber said she has asthma and a heart condition. She said she would sub online if that is available.

"I really do believe kids have to go back to school safely."

She said in a normal year, subs can be in as many as 10 different schools in a month. She said this year they may have an increased workload if there is a shortage.

Barber suggested that a handbook for substitutes based on the school or division, because subs can be called in at a moment's notice and may go into a school with different rules and procedures.

Bidulka said she has spoken to subs who have another job outside of teaching and are choosing that over being in the classroom.

She said if there is a shortage of subs, class sizes could increase.

"Safely reopening schools means ensuring smaller classes and enough EAs and substitutes to keep too many kids from mixing together," Bidulka said. 

Divisions will try to keep subs to one or two schools, says minister 

Education Minister Gord Wyant was asked about substitute teachers at the opening of a new school in Rosthern on Tuesday.

"Substitute teachers will be handled the same way that they're normally handled. There's a list of substitute teachers that each school division has and those school divisions will bring the substitute teachers in when they can."

Wyant said "part of the protocol" will be to try and keep substitutes to "one or two schools."

"We know that substitute teachers have to go to different schools. But we're going to try to minimize that to the school divisions and through their plans," Wyant said.

Schools province-wide are expected to announce their specific return to school plans on Wednesday.


Adam Hunter


Adam Hunter is the provincial affairs reporter at CBC Saskatchewan, based in Regina. He has been with CBC for more than 14 years. Follow him on Twitter @AHiddyCBC. Contact him:


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?