As school year begins, labour federation calls on Quebec to fix teacher shortage

Classroom hands raised
Students across Quebec are heading back to school this week amid a teacher shortage. File/Getty Images

The Quebec government should prioritize how to address a growing shortage of teachers as students head back to school this week, according to one of the province’s largest labour federations.

The Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ), which represents more than 200,000 members, says the province is failing to fix problems within its schools including work conditions and a lack of support for staff.

The move comes one day after Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said it would take years before the teacher shortage would be fixed. He blamed the previous Liberal government for what he described as an inability to attract and retain staff.

“In spite of everything, our efforts are starting to bear fruit,” he said on social media.

READ MORE: English Montreal School Board to adhere to Quebec’s secularism law

While acknowledging that it might take a while to fix the problem and there there is “worry” in schools, Roberge called for patience from parents on Tuesday. He said the education ministry is there to help find solutions which could include offering new pathways to the teaching profession.

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The CSQ argues the government needs to stop wasting its energy on its plan to abolish school boards and instead focus on the scarcity of teachers. It estimates the province will acquire 65,000 additional students over the next five years.

The province needs to take all-encompassing approach to fixing the problem, according to CSQ President Sonia Éthier. This includes hiring more full-time teachers, lowering the number of students in each class and alleviating the burden on education staff.

“We must act on all these fronts,” she said in a statement.

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—With files from The Canadian Press

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