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Quebec “levels to the bottom” in the maintenance of schools, deplore liberals and solidarity

Photo: Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press Liberal elected official Madwa-Nika Cadet during question period at the National Assembly on April 16 in Quebec

Zacharie Goudreault

Published yesterday at 4:52 p.m.

  • Quebec

The Quebec government is “leveling down” by cutting funding for the maintenance of the province’s schools, opposition parties in the National Assembly lament. A decision that could cost the state dearly in the coming years, in addition to undermining the daily lives of students at the start of the next school year, they fear.

After increasing its investments in recent years to tackle the backlog in the maintenance of the province’s schools, the Quebec government has this year reduced the overall envelope allocated to the maintenance of school buildings in 2024-2025 by $409.2 million compared to the amount allocated for this purpose by the state last year.

This information, revealed by Le Devoir on Wednesday morning, caused two elected officials from the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ) and Québec solidaire (QS), those responsible for the education issues within their political party.

In an interview, MP Madwa-Nika Cadet, of the PLQ, recalled that the Quebec government had made education and health its “priorities” as part of its latest budget, presented last March. However, “what we see is that the underestimation of the dilapidated state of schools by the CAQ [Coalition Avenir Québec] continues,” denounces the elected Liberal.

“It’s a completely incomprehensible decision, and it shows that it’s not true that education is a priority for the CAQ,” the QS MP declared in an interview. Ruba Ghazal.

Following methodological changes, the government increased the share of school buildings considered in good condition in Quebec by 5%, from 39% to 44% this year. However, in 2019 the government aimed for half of the buildings in the network to be considered in good condition by 2023, before revising this target downwards last year.

The Ministry of Education now sets the objective that 40% of the network's buildings will be in a state deemed satisfactory this year.

“So, instead of resolving the situation and putting in enough money to resolve this asset maintenance deficit, we are reducing the target,” says Ms. Ghazal, offended. However, “that's not how we solve the problem”, at a time when the problems of dilapidation of our schools regularly make the headlines, she reminds us.

< p>“The government is leveling down. It’s a bit of an observation of failure of one’s own ability to be able to deliver the goods,” says Ms. Cadet. “Meanwhile, these are real students, in real schools, who will have to learn in conditions that are not entirely interesting,” adds the elected official, according to whom Quebec should “at the very least” bring back to 50% its target of school buildings must be in satisfactory condition, in addition to increasing the funding it grants for this purpose.

More expensive in the long term

This 22% drop in one year in funding for school maintenance risks also leading to the suspension of renovation work, as well as the layoff of specialized employees in school service centers, such as architects and engineers, reported Le Devoir Wednesday.

“This is not good news, neither for school administrators nor for students, who will have to continue to evolve in these conditions”, laments, worried, Ms. Cadet. A concern shared by Ruba Ghazal.

“It is not at all the time to lower the budget to reduce the asset maintenance deficit,” underlines the supportive MP. On the contrary, “we must take a step back, because these cuts will have impacts over time” by causing the bill for work to be carried out in the province's schools to inflate according to inflation, notes She. Currently, the deficit in maintaining real estate assets in the school network is estimated at nearly $8.5 billion by the State. “The needs are dire,” notes Ms. Ghazal.

On Tuesday, in reaction, the office of the Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, argued that his government had greatly increased in recent years the budget intended in particular for the renovation of buildings, but also for the construction of new schools. However, “the majority of students who currently attend our schools do not go to these establishments,” replies Madwa-Nika Cadet.

The Minister of Education also argued that despite this year's drop of more than $400 million in money invested in combating the school maintenance deficit, “the 10-year annual average” of funding allocated for this purpose , “it continues to increase.”

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