Québec Solidaire defends workers, school boards as fall session looms

Québec Solidaire vows to defend workers’ rights and school boards
On the eve of the new session starting at the National Assembly, Québec Solidaire had some harsh words for the CAQ. The party says the CAQ promised change but as Global's Raquel Fletcher explains, Québec Solidaire insists it’s the same old song and dance.

The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) ran on a campaign to bring in change, but the third opposition party Québec Solidaire (QS) says the new government has the same old song and dance.

“We see a government that was supposed to be a government of change, re-enacting exactly the same scenario that we’ve been seeing since 15 years in Quebec, which is cutting in public services (and) undermining the working conditions of the people in the public sector,” said QS house leader, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois.

READ MORE: CAQ caucus highlights government’s priorities, female cabinet ministers

During a meeting for the second day of its pre-session caucus Monday, one day before the National Assembly reconvenes, QS says it vows to defend workers rights and school boards.

“You cannot have good public services if the people who work there have bad working conditions,” Nadeau-Dubois said.

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The party says public-sector workers deserve better pay and reduced work loads after years of austerity and it criticized the premier for comments he made last week.

Quebec Premier François Legault said the $2 billion government surplus will be used up this year in order to fulfill the CAQ’s campaign promises and public-sector employees — except orderlies in long-term care homes and early career teachers — should not expect any pay raises above the rate of inflation.

“Those surpluses are for Quebecers, not for unions or for anyone else,” he said on Friday while at the CAQ pre-session caucus in Rivière-du-Loup.

“It seems like the unions are not good,” said Manon Massé, QS co-spokesperson, in response to Legault’s comments.

“Oh wow, stop. These people who work there are Quebecers and they are Quebecers who work for other Quebecers, so you have to respect them.”

READ MORE: Majority of anglophone Quebecers say axing school boards puts minority language rights at risk: survey

This is not the only battle QS said it will take up against the government this fall session. Education Minister Jean-François Roberge plans to table legislation to abolish school boards  and the party said that’s a mistake.

“Everywhere school boards were abolished, for example in New Brunswick, they were forced to put them in place again,” Nadeau-Dubois said.

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He said improvements can be made so that resources are distributed more equally to schools, but “school boards do the job right now.”

READ MORE: Quebec plan to partially reimburse glasses for children under 18 in effect

They also want the government to consider capping the salaries of top executives of Crown corporations and private companies who receive government money, in order to bring them more in line with their employees.

“We gave this policy a nickname, which was the Bombardier clause,” Nadeau-Dubois said. Bombardier has been heavily criticized for topping up bosses’ salaries and bonuses after receiving taxpayer money.

“That money should be used to create jobs in Quebec, not to give millions and millions of dollars to CEOs.”