Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation

The Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF) is the professional organization of teachers in Saskatchewan's publicly funded elementary and secondary schools. It is responsible for acting as the voice of teachers to government and the public, bargaining collectively on behalf of its members, regulating teacher conduct, promoting teacher professionalism, and advocating for teachers, children and public education.

The STF was created in 1933 when three earlier teacher groups disbanded to form a new organization that would represent all teachers in Saskatchewan. At the time, many teachers were struggling to cope with years of drought, economic depression, geographic isolation, and dictatorial school boards. A growing sense of frustration led in 1919 to a teachers' strike in Moose Jaw, said to be the first recorded action of its kind by teachers in Canada. Against a backdrop of hardship and unrest, STF organizers were able to enroll over 90% of teachers as members of the new federation. In 1935, government passed an Act Respecting the Teaching Profession, the first legislation in Canada to require all teachers to be members of the provincial teachers' organization as a condition of their employment.

In the decades that followed, the STF was able to improve teachers' salaries and working conditions and to raise the status of the teaching profession. To establish a stable base from which to fund these improvements and to enhance the quality of education for students, it participated in a successful campaign to establish larger school units. It secured access for teachers to boards of reference, promoted a professional program of teacher education, and assumed a collaborative role in the development of curricula and educational policies. The STF also established plans that provided teachers with pensions, income protection, counselling services, health benefits, insurance coverage, professional development opportunities, and research grants. The STF was the first teachers' organization in Canada to take responsibility for the administration of a pension plan for teachers.

The STF has helped to develop among educational organizations a unique tradition of co-operation that has resulted in a relatively conflict-free history of education in Saskatchewan. The STF is represented on the Board of Teacher Education and Certification, the Teacher Classification Board, the Teachers' Superannuation Commission, and the senates of the province's two universities. Educational partners also include the League of Educational Administrators, Directors and Superintendents (LEADS), the Saskatchewan Association of School Business Officials (SASBO), and the Saskatchewan School Boards Association.

As a founding member of the Canadian Teachers' Federation, STF has worked actively with teachers' organizations in other provinces and countries. Although the STF is politically non-partisan, many of its members have contributed significantly to the social, economic, and political life of the province. The organization itself has established numerous policies and programs to address social and economic issues of importance to teachers, such as racism, homophobia, and child poverty.

STF has approximately 12,000 members who work in almost 800 schools in Saskatchewan and who belong to geographically defined local STF associations. Policies are set by a Council of teachers elected annually by the associations, and are implemented by a provincial executive elected from and by the Council. Programs operate out of offices in Saskatoon and Regina in three areas: teacher welfare, professional services, and administration-communications.

In 1991 the STF established the Dr. Stirling McDowell Foundation for Research into Teaching. Supported by individual and corporate donations, the Foundation is a charitable organization that provides funding for teacher research into teaching and learning in the primary and secondary education systems. It was created to give teachers a greater role in developing educational knowledge.

Verna Gallen, Bill Quine

Further Reading

McConnell, G. 1983. Arbos 1983: Memories 1933-1983. Saskatoon: Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation; Tyre, R. 1968. Tales out of School: A Story of the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation. Saskatoon: Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation.