Teachers in Quebec’s English-language schools are struggling due to what they call an “unfair and discriminatory” omission of work-family balance rights in their collective agreement, according to the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR).
A committee of mostly female teachers in the English-speaking education sector are arguing they don’t have a family responsibility clause in their agreement.
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“A few years ago, when things became very challenging with my son, I needed help balancing work and family responsibilities,” explained teacher Katharine Coukier.
“I had a very difficult time getting work and [the] union to respond to these needs.”
Coukier currently takes care of her severely autistic son and an aging parent with the onset of dementia.
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She said she was forced to take a two-year sick leave to focus on her family, losing about $35,000 in income.
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Anglophone teachers in Quebec say their deal doesn’t match what francophone teachers, as well as support staff in English schools, have.
Coukier and many other teachers are working together to fight to have the clause included in their contracts.
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Teacher Anjali Abraham, a mother of two, says the unions don’t put enough of a priority on helping teachers find work-life balance.
“[It’s about recognizing] the many demands placed on families and the need to provide opportunities for all teachers to balance family work and professional work,” she told Global News.
CRARR is now asking the Quebec government to include family status into the province’s Charter of Human Rights.
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“The Quebec charter does not recognize discrimination on a basis of family status, contrary to the federal government or other provinces,” said CRARR executive director Fo Niemi.
The organization warns if the clause is not fixed, it will file a complaint of discrimination with the Quebec human rights commission.