The provincial NDP is calling on the government for more education funding ahead of the 2019 provincial budget.

“At the very least what we’ve been asking for is the full restoration of the $54 million that was cut out of the budget in the 2017 budget,” NDP Education Critic Carla Beck told reporters after Wednesday’s question period. “I think that’s just the bare minimum.”

Minister of Education Gordon Wyant says he’s consulted with hundreds of teachers and other education professionals to figure out the current needs in Saskatchewan classrooms in the lead up to the budget.

“We’ve encouraged those conversations because I want to hear from teachers and I want to understand fully what the challenges are in their classrooms, whether it’s administrative supports, whether it’s other supports in the classroom that they need,” Wyant said.

Wyant could not disclose any details on funding forthcoming with this year’s budget, but pointed to the 2018 budget to show where the government stands.

“Last year it was $30 million added to the budget so I think that’s a pretty good indication of this government’s commitment to fund public education.”

According to the province, some of the biggest challenges brought up include a rising number of English-as-an-additional-language students, administrative burdens, and more students with complex learning needs.

“We need to meet those head on,” said Wyant. “I think having conversations with teachers, having conversations with school boards, allows me to bring those perspectives to the cabinet table.”

The opposition says the minister is likely hearing about the same challenges in the classroom they are, but hope to see a better understanding.

“What concerns me is when the minister resorts to the same old tired lines that we have heard the last two ministers use around the global dollars that the government has put into education without understanding the need that exists in classrooms across the province,” said Beck.

The provincial budget will be delivered on Mar. 20.