Education budget lacking, province’s teachers say

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Julie Murray

The $100.2 billion budget that Quebec announced on April 1 is the province’s first balanced
budget in six years. To accomplish this task, health care and

Julie Murray

The $100.2 billion budget that Quebec announced on April 1 is the province’s first balanced
budget in six years. To accomplish this task, health care and
education, the two biggest portfolios in program spending, generally took serious hits. Although health care spending will be increased by 1.4% and education spending by 0.2%, these amounts are not enough to keep up with inflation. This year, healthcare spending accounts for $33 billion while
education gets just over $16 billion. These two programs are the province’s largest sources of spending.
Teachers pressure province
over contract negotiations
According to the March 26, 2015 issue of the Montreal Gazette, this year’s education budget will mean $45 million less for all of the school boards in the province, $21 million less for the CEGEP system and $10 million less for universities. The spending announcement and upcoming
contract negotiations between the province and teachers have sparked demonstrations, particularly in Montreal. In West Quebec, teachers in both French and English boards have engaged in modest pressure tactics, for
example, by protesting outside of the school in the morning. Daniel Tremblay-Villeneuve of Grand Riviere High School told the Journal, “For now, we’re picketing every Tuesday morning and we’re encouraging our teachers to only work for the 32 hours for which they are paid.”
Budget is good
news for West Quebec
However, Pontiac MNA Andre Fortin explained, “If you look at the details, in West Quebec, primary and secondary schools will be receiving a normal increase in funding.
It is true that the credits to the CEGEP and university systems are down throughout the province, but that is because the transfers to those systems are based on the number of students. With Quebec’s changing demographics, there are fewer students, and fewer young people so the government will be spending less for this level of education. However, we substantially increased funding in terms of scholarships and loans. And in West Quebec, the number of students at Heritage College and the CEGEP de l’Outaouais is growing, so they will receive more in funding.”
Gas prices lowered
“The budget is good news for West Quebec,” added Fortin. “For example, the province has recognized the reality that we live on the border of Ontario and that gas stations are competing for business with Ontario outlets. Service
stations have lost over
one-third of their clientele to Ontario and we wanted to get back those customers. As recently as last week, drivers have probably noticed that gas prices have been cut.”