Saskatchewan’s finance minister Kevin Doherty says letters have been sent to all government employers and unions asking them to find ways to save money.

Savings could be found by reducing salaries, or having employees take unpaid days off, layoffs or even increasing taxes, says Doherty. NDP interim Leader Trent Wotherspoon says all of those options are unacceptable.

Salaries and benefits of the public sector represent $7.1 billion a year, including for teachers. In August, teachers’ contracts are set to expire and negotiations will begin in May.

Read: Nearly 80% of education spending went to pensions, benefits, pay: report

Pat Maze, president of the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation, says he’s concerned cuts to the education sector could trickle down to the classroom. “We’ll go into negotiations with good faith, and expect them to do the same,” Maze said.

Doherty says the government is not breaking any promises. “We’re not rewriting any contracts . . . It could be a reduction in salaries at this point in time. It could be leaves of absence, it could be unpaid days, it could be layoffs – there is any number of options.

“We are asking they sit down and have a discussion with those employee groups to determine what, if any, of those options could be put on the table.”

Read: B.C. Teachers’ pension reduces employer contribution rates

Copyright © 2019 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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