March 21, 2019 4:38 pm
Updated: March 21, 2019 6:53 pm

Quebec budget: billions earmarked for education but critics say don’t expect services

WATCH: In its first provincial budget, the Coalition Avenir Québec government is making the education system a priority. As Global's Elysia Bryan-Baynes reports, billions will be used on schools.

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The Quebec government’s budget earmarks a $6.1-billion increase in education spending over the next 10 years.

In order to deliver on a key promise of kindergarten for four-year-old children, the Coalition Avenir Québec is investing $1 billion over five years.

READ MORE: CAQ government tables first budget using billions left over from Liberals

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However, critics say there is a big problem with the plan. They say there aren’t enough teachers or support staff — even if there is more money to recruit them.

“You need people to recruit and there is a labour shortage in Quebec,” said Yves-Thomas Dorval from the Quebec Employers’ Council.

Union representatives for thousands of Quebec teachers agree.

“There is going to be a problem finding teachers for kindergarten” said Pierre Antoine Harvey, from the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ).

The province is still moving ahead and to do that, it will also have to build classrooms in existing schools. A total of $2 billion is set aside for that.

WATCH BELOW: Quebec government pushes on with plan to enroll 4-year-olds in preschool

Another $1 billion is in place for renovations and to build new schools. There is also millions for extra-curricular activities and special education services.

Critics, however, warn that just because the government has put money into education, doesn’t mean they will be able to deliver.

Harvey says there are two problems, including the province’s growing labour shortage.

“Last year we had money for services,” he said.

“But we couldn’t do those projects because we didn’t have enough support staff to implement the investments.”

The other issue, according to Harvey, is that the budget does not have enough money to recruit new teachers or retain the ones already working in Quebec.

READ MORE: These are the LBPSB schools that will add preschool for 4-year-olds

The CSQ says that after five years, a fifth of teachers leave — and it says this budget does not have money to increase salaries and improve working conditions.

The government says that it will try and lure retired teachers, as well as those who have switched professions to come back to the education system.

An additional 250 classrooms for kindergarten for four-year-old children is expected to be ready to go by the fall of 2019.

READ MORE: Quebec government pushes on with plan to enroll 4-year-olds in preschool

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