At the dawn of strikes in Quebec schools, the Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, “does not rule out” the possibility that it will be necessary to resume strike days later in the school calendar .
“The decision has not yet been made,” he said Thursday morning. “As you know, the law mandates 180 days in the classroom, 180 days of educational services, and 20 days of instructional days. […] I would tell you that it will depend a lot on the duration of the strikes,” he added.
Could Quebec ask schools to cut educational days or extend the 'school year ? “We can’t rule it out. Absolutely,” replied the minister.
Mr. Drainville, however, indicated that he remained hopeful of reaching a negotiated agreement with the teaching unions. “We still have hope that the unions will come back with a real counter-offer, because there hasn’t really been one until now,” he said. In the morning, the President of the Treasury Board, Sonia LeBel, assured that there was “colossal work” being done at the negotiating tables.
In the absence of an agreement, the 66,000 members of the Autonomous Education Federation (FAE) will begin an indefinite general strike on November 23. Many professionals and support staff members, as well as the majority (60%) of Quebec teachers — all represented by the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ), affiliated with the Inter-union Common Front — will walk off the 21st, 22nd and November 23.
- Guide for parents in view of the school strike at the end of November 2023
- The FAE will launch an indefinite general strike from November 23
- The Common Front will strike again from November 21 to 23
“It is certain that we are getting dangerously close to the deadline,” agreed Minister Drainville. But there are still discussions. » He said he hoped that teachers would give “materials to children so that they can, a little, continue their learning”. “It must not become a holiday, a break,” he added.
The FAE believes that putting work back at home would hinder its members' right to strike. The CSQ affirms for its part that this decision falls within the autonomy of the teacher.
A new pavilion at Laval University
Minister Drainville was at Laval University to announce the construction of a new teaching pavilion. The 1,200 square meter project, estimated to cost $19.2 million, aims to accommodate 175 new students in teaching, psychoeducation, guidance, sports intervention and school administration. Its inauguration is scheduled for fall 2028.
The Minister of Higher Education, Pascale Déry, said she was “convinced” of being able to attract more students through “stimulating” and “state-of-the-art” spaces and thus increase “so much significant” the number of teaching graduates. Laval University will offer a “more participatory” model: the spaces will be particularly adapted to accommodate students from the school environment.
Minister Drainville, for his part, recalled that around 5,000 people register for the baccalaureate in teaching each year. “After four years, there are 3,000 left. So there is a lot going on between the first and fourth year,” he observed.
This disaffection during the baccalaureate course is not specific to teaching programs, later clarified the dean of the Faculty of Educational Sciences at the same university, Anabelle Viau-Guay. “It’s a challenge in higher education, […] a generalized challenge,” she emphasized. She said she was “favorable to measures that promote the success of our students”, such as remuneration for teaching internships.
Minister Drainville for his part said he hoped that the “very stimulating” and “very rewarding” of the new building will give the university the means to retain more students. The rector of Laval University, Sophie D'Amours, was delighted to be able to offer students “a different experience”, a “modern, inspiring and vibrant” environment.