Saskatchewan’s education support workers are raising concerns of workplace violence, pointing to provincial budget cuts as the cause.

At the CUPE’S Education Workers’ Conference at the Delta Hotel in Regina on Friday, support workers gathered to discuss the key issues facing them.

A recent uptick in workplace violence staff are suffering in schools is one main issue, which workers said go hand-in-hand with budget cuts.

“Five years ago no one ever questioned their safety when they got up in the morning. Well, you have many people questioning their safety when they work in schools. That’s kind of concerning,” said Jackie Christianson, chairperson for the Education Workers Steering Committee.

With less money being provided to pay for support workers, the number of staff – or the number of days staff are working – is lower. Combined with the growing number of students, some workers say they no longer feel safe working in Saskatchewan’s schools.

“Because of the budget … our school board didn’t have much option but to reduce our days of work,” said Marie Moore, a secretary in the Horizon School Division.

“I certainly have seen an increase of violence and personal attacks on our support staff in their daily work.”

Christianson said there are less EA’s working in the province than there were in 2007, while there are 20,000 more students and many more intensive needs students.

In an email statement to CTV, the Ministry of Education said that the safety of the province’s staff and students is a priority.

“Our boards of education are in the best position to develop policies and procedures to ensure the health and safety of their students and staff. All school divisions across the province have staff and community partners trained in Violence Threat Risk Assessment,” it read.