The North Star


Quebec PM calls for end of teacher strike

The CAQ cares about kids (or so it says)

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And that's it. For all the CAQ's efforts to pretend it was a conciliatory, attentive government during the COVID-19 crisis, it's over. We're back to the good old rhetoric of elites who don't care about workers. Teachers on strike? "But have you thought about the children?" lamented François Legault before the National Assembly.

Perhaps it would be better to listen to our Prime Minister, but not to imitate him. His government was denounced in early November for its decision to maintain the 50% ratio of qualified educators in the child-care sector until 2027.

The Fédération de la santé et des services sociaux (FSSS-CSN), through its CPE network representative Stéphanie Vachon, denounced the measure, stating that "qualified CPE staff are a guarantee of quality services. This has long been proven. Operating with a minimum of qualified staff for many more years will have a direct impact on the quality of services," describing the measure as dismissive of workers.

So for Mr. Legault, children are important, but not in daycare, or at least not too much. But does he really care about primary and secondary school children?

Judge for yourself: the Fédération autonome de l'enseignement (FAE, which regroups different teacher's unions in Quebec) is calling for a maximum time limit for the evaluation of at-risk students. Sounds reasonable! We've got to take care of the students! But no, Mr. Legault refuses, saying we need more flexibility from teachers instead.

Ah, flexible labor. Flexible is a nice word, it sounds nice. But it's like an old trick that gets brought out for the 10ᵉ time at the same party: oligarchs and big multinationals have been using the term since the early 2000s. Not to talk about better, more secure working conditions. No. To talk about flexible working conditions to their advantage, obviously.

Flexible working hours, to make people work more. Flexible child evaluation, to evaluate children later, to make up for the labor shortage. This causes more fatigue, more frustration, more health problems, both physical and mental. There's no need to make young people want to become teachers, when we can already make those we have work harder!

And that's not counting the 12% of school support workers who have to turn to food banks to survive.

And remember, Mr. Legault, teachers think of their students. All it takes is a quick chat with a teacher on a picket line to understand that their demands help students as much as teachers. If they go out there and freeze for six hours every day without strike pay, it's because they really believe in their mission as teachers.

What the CAQ seems to be suggesting is that the real stingy ones are the teachers who choose to continue working 50 hours for 32 hours pay in a class that's too big and full of special-needs students. On the other hand, when ministers vote a $53,000 raise for themselves that, on its own, is equivalent to the annual entry-level salary of a high school teacher-$53,541-that's "governing for the benefit of Quebecers".

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