Childcare facilities that ask parents to leave their children at home, special needs students left in the lurch, classes without teachers at the start of the school year.
While labour shortages in education were an issue of concern before the pandemic, they have only worsened over the last three years, according to the President of the CSQ, Éric Gingras: “This problem has given rise to increasingly worrisome situations in the school network, has caused overwork for the staff on the job and threatens the quality and accessibility of services provided to Québec’s students.”
Students without services
Although the Education Act stipulates that students with special learning or adjustment needs are entitled to receive educational services, the Québec Ombudsman revealed in his report, published in June 2022, that children are still not receiving services that reflect their real needs. One of the findings of the investigation: “school organizations (school service centres and school boards) do not have the staff required to respond to the needs of all students.”
Close the door to the private agencies
“We are so short of professionals in the schools that the Ministère has left the door wide open to private agencies,” states the President of the Fédération des professionnelles et professionnels de l’éducation du Québec (FPPE-CSQ), Jacques Landry. “Yet school professional staff are obviously in the best position to offer and provide adapted services.”
Give staff breathing room
To improve the quality and accessibility of student services, education must be restored as a central priority. “Staffing needs are urgent, but that’s not new,” says Éric Gingras. “To replenish the staff in our schools, we have to value the work, the skills and the professionalism of school personnel and make all the jobs in the network more attractive and more competitive.”
If we want to motivate people to work with students in the classrooms and to remain on the job, we must offer better conditions for teaching, believes the President of the Fédération des syndicats de l’enseignement (FSE-CSQ), Josée Scalabrini. In her view, teachers are clear: “They want class sizes to be adjusted to the needs of the students and they want more balanced classes. They are asking for a lightened workload so that they can devote their attention to helping students succeed.”
End employment insecurity
“Despite the shortage of school support staff, many school service centres continue to offer a large number of jobs under 25 hours per week,” says the President of the Fédération du personnel de soutien scolaire (FPSS-CSQ), Éric Pronovost.
“How can anyone think we are attracting school support staff this way when people are faced with the rising cost of living?” he asks. “The solution requires boosting the number of hours, so that school support staff can prevent problems rather than be subjected to them.”
Urgent need for action
The public-sector negotiations getting underway is an opportunity that the government must not miss, says Éric Gingras. “It has to fully assess the situation and transcend the traditional confrontational approach. We have solutions to propose to breathe new life into our public education system, and it starts at the negotiating tables!”