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An education budget marked by the labor conflict

Photo: Valérian Mazataud Le Devoir Education spending increases by 9.3%, thanks to savings during the strike in particular.

The 2024-2025 budget bears the mark of the labor conflict that shook the education network in the fall. It devotes a 9.3% increase in spending on education, a significant jump explained by savings of half a billion in salaries during the strike, then by the 300 million allocated to the catch-up plan for students in difficulty.

The strike allowed the Ministry of Education to save 510 million in remuneration, more than the funds allocated in January to the catch-up plan. Without this salary saving, growth in education spending would be 6.7% in 2024-2025, read the budget documents tabled Tuesday. This is nevertheless an increase in budgets, since the increase was estimated at 6% last year.

“By the way, this is exceptional. We really want to improve the quality of education services,” underlined the Minister of Finance, Eric Girard, whose deficit budget makes education the “government’s first priority”.

The growth in education spending can be explained in particular by the creation of accelerated – and paid – training in the field of construction. The bulk of education spending, which takes up 15% of Quebec's budget, is devoted to measures to “promote the educational success of young people”.

Of the 819 million in the overall envelope over five years, 188 million were not budgeted last year, but have already been granted in 2023-2024, especially to “support students in difficulty returning to class”, after the strike.

Transforming governance

Measures to “support student success” total $545 million over six years, including spending of $188 million already announced. They include 16.4 million over five years dedicated to continuing the “transformation of school governance”. Among the anticipated expenses in this category are those associated with the deployment of a National Institute of Excellence in Education. “You have seen the dashboard: what we have managed to do in health, we will have to do in education,” declared Minister Girard. Its budget recalls the government's desire to create a “system for filing and communicating information” in the education network, and announces that of introducing “management and accountability agreements” in school service centers.

In the short term, “before the expected effect [of the new collective agreements] is felt”, Quebec plans 114 million over two years to “keep retired people from the education network in employment”, “return positions to more attractive part-time work” and “support and accompany” teaching staff. The budget proposes to pay retired people who work as substitutes based on the salary scale corresponding to their experience and education. He also recalls that Quebec wants to deploy “classroom aids” in 14,000 classrooms, from 5-year-old kindergarten to the end of primary school.

The condition of Quebec schools is also improving slightly. Thus, 56% of school buildings in Quebec are in poor condition, compared to 61% last year and 59% the year before. “Despite significant investments in recent years, many schools remain aging,” recognizes the government, which is spending $100 million on the maintenance of school buildings by 2028-2029.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116