Teacher shortage ~ Local school boards forced to compromise on applicants’ qualifications to fill teacher positions

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Sophie Demers
Local Journalism Initiative

On September 5, Quebec’s Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, released the latest data on the teacher shortage in the province. Across the 71 school boards and school service centres that participated in the data collection, there are 217 full-time and 1,114 part-time vacant positions.

The minister notes that despite the vacancies, school boards and school service centres are obligated under the Education Act to provide solutions until positions are filled. These solutions can mean substitute teachers or adding tasks to existing staff and teachers.

Despite the alarming announcement, George Singfield, Western Quebec School Board (WQSB) director, says nearly all positions are filled in the board’s schools, with the exception of a few. He said Pontiac High School in Shawville has no vacant teacher positions.

“We’ve fared pretty well and we’re lucky because other school boards are really struggling right now to fill their teacher positions,” said Singfield. “We’re proud we’re able to recruit good quality people for our classrooms.”

Singfield notes there are, across all schools in the WQSB, 22 teacher positions occupied by non-qualified teachers. “Although they may not be qualified on paper, we provide training, resources, follow-ups, coaching, and mentorship like we do with all our teachers. So, in that sense, they’re qualified in an unofficial way.”

Singfield highlighted the WQSB’s a teacher induction program that accompanies new teachers and those coming from other school boards for the first two years of teaching. Additionally, Quebec has been pushing for opportunities for non-qualified teachers to obtain certifications through partner universities. “We have a few non-qualified teachers going through these programs right now,” said Singfield.

The French Service Centre, Centre de services scolaire des Hauts-Bois-de-l’Outaouais (CSSHBO) is feeling the teacher shortage more acutely. According to Director Denis Rossignol, they are doing better than before as they currently have 12 vacancies for teachers, professionals, and support workers, down from 50-60 at the beginning of the year.

Their staff consists of 30% non-qualified personnel, including teachers, professionals, and support workers. Rossignol says the challenge for the service centre is supporting all the staff. With a larger group of non-qualified teachers, it requires more support and accompaniment.

“We’re providing mentorship to ensure the quality of education is maintained,” said Rossignol. However, 150 of the non-qualified teachers with the CSSHBO are currently completing a program to obtain proper certification at the universities partnered with the Ministry of Education to provide programs.