English stories

Education professionals hold a half-day strike

le mercredi 19 mai 2021
Modifié à 13 h 47 min le 20 mai 2021
Par David Daigle, Le Courrier du Sud, Initiative de journalisme local

Thousands of education professionals participated in a half-day strike across Quebec this Wednesday morning, May 19th. In Chateauguay, a dozen professionals demonstrated in front of the New Frontiers School Board. Picket lines were also organized at Howard S. Billings High School, Centennial Park School, St. Willibrord Elementary, and NOVA Career Centre. For its part, the school board announced it was closing all elementary and secondary schools as well as daycares for the day, offering afternoon and evening classes at its adult education centres. During the protest, professional staff denounced “a dead end” in negotiations with the Treasury Board to renew their contract, which expired over a year ago. “As workers, our only remaining option is to withhold our labour”, read a letter written by the New Frontiers Association of Professionals. “In 2016, we voted to accept the agreement the government proposed, even though there were outstanding issues. We voted in order to maintain civic harmony. Both parties agreed to continue to negotiate but the government has abused our confidence and not kept its end of the bargain. They are again attempting to impose conditions that are far below our demands”. [caption id="attachment_104396" align="alignnone" width="444"] Daniel Wormeli, speech language pathologist and New Frontiers Association of Professionals Unit Delegate. (Photo : Le Soleil de Châteauguay - Paula Dayan-Perez)[/caption] The half-day of action also follows the announcement that teachers will be getting a salary increase. “By choosing to make salary adjustments to teachers only, the government weakens the education network as a whole and creates tensions between work teams”, said Dominic Di Stefano, president of the Syndicat des professionnelles et professionnels de l'Ouest de Québec anglophone (SPPOQA-CSQ), in a statement. “A deep sense of iniquity is spreading, and a wind of massive dissatisfaction is blowing through the ranks of professional staff. By addressing the shortage issue in this manner, the government is creating another one among professionals, and it has equally devastating consequences for students”. [caption id="attachment_104398" align="alignnone" width="444"] Una Levesque, reeducation counsellor, and Jayme Mcclintock, development officer. (Photo : Le Soleil de Châteauguay - Paula Dayan-Perez)[/caption] According to Syndicat des professionnelles et professionnels de la Montérégie (SPPM-CSQ) president Guy Boivin, an underinvestment in professional resources means that students aren’t getting equal opportunities. “The move towards the private sector is becoming increasingly frequent in our circles”. He said the availability of psychology services is decreasing almost everywhere, compromising mental health screening and intervention. Boivin also reported that many professionals want to leave their vocation. He cites a survey showing that 26% of Montérégie professionals have indicated wanting to work elsewhere. SPPOQA president Dominic Di Stefano said the issue extends to families as well. “If the trend continues, parents in Quebec will have to pay for the professional services that should normally be provided by the school by law. This will leave behind thousands of students whose parents will have to make the heartbreaking choice of either shopping for groceries or paying for the services their child needs. That’s unacceptable”. The strike involved 10 000 professionals affiliated with the Fédération des professionnelles et professionnels de l’Éducation du Québec (FPPE-CSQ).