Education professionals dissatisfied with services and working conditions

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Sophie Demers
Local Journalism Initiative   

In a recent survey done by the Fédération des professionnelles et professionnels de l’éducation du Québec (FPPE-CSQ) and the Syndicat du personnel professionnel du milieu scolaire de l’Outaouais (SPPMSO-CSQ), 87% of education professionals in the region believe students aren’t receiving the services they’re entitled to under the Education Act.

Of the survey participants, 72% feel they cannot take preventive action and 72% say the lack of qualified teachers and computerization has increased their workload.

The most prominent education professional shortage is of psychologists and counselors. “A number of professional positions are currently vacant in the region, including eight in psychology and nine in educational counseling. The difficulty schools have in attracting and retaining professionals is mainly due to unattractive working conditions,” said Annie St-Pierre, president of the SPPMSO- CSQ.

In addition to the vacancies, existing education professionals are feeling overworked and underpaid. Nearly 37% of respondents are considering leaving their jobs for reasons other than retirement. Of them, 58% indicated they’re looking for better pay and a lighter workload.

On a provincial level, Jacques Landry, president of FPPE-CSQ, says the situation is alarming. “Our survey of over 4,000 people shows that 41% of professionals are thinking of leaving their jobs. The reasons given are low pay (50%), the workload (47%) and lack of recognition (45%).”

Survey data also shows that 80% feel students aren’t receiving the services they’re entitled to and 60% feel services and administrative resources are insufficient to ensure an optimal academic environment.

The Ministry of Education has established bursary programs for those who commit to becoming school counselors or psychologists, but FPPE-CSQ says it’s not enough.

“Discussions at the bargaining tables are stagnating. The government isn’t proposing anything concrete to improve the current situation, which continues to deteriorate. We hope the government will take advantage of the back-to-school period to send us the message that the needs of Quebec’s students are among its priorities,” said Landry.

The FPPE-CSQ and SPPMSO-CSQ say raising salaries, improving working conditions and schedule flexibility, and allowing more time off to facilitate work-life balance would help attract and retain more staff to work with students.

The FPPE-CSQ represents 19 unions totaling about 12,500 members across Quebec.