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Anne-Marie Provost and Marie-Eve Cousineau

December 20, 2023

  • Quebec

The Autonomous Federation of Education (FAE) in turn rejects the offer submitted by Quebec on Tuesday, accusing the Legault government of letting the conflict continue, while the Federation of Education Unions ( FSE-CSQ) tabled  a counter-proposal on Wednesday “with the aim of relaunching discussions in order to obtain an agreement before the holidays”.

“Contrary to the comments made yesterday by the President of the Treasury Board, Sonia LeBel, and by the Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, this new offer contains significant setbacks for teachers as well as for their students and does not constitute an agreement in principle [satisfactory] to meet the pressing needs of public schools,” writes the FAE in a press release sent late Wednesday afternoon.

The delegates of the nine unions affiliated with the FAE met in a federal negotiating council on Wednesday to discuss Quebec's offer. “The Prime Minister and his representatives have opted for a strategy of exhausting teachers, by allowing this conflict to continue, which is completely unacceptable and irresponsible,” underlined the president, Mélanie Hubert.

It is specified that the federal negotiating council “is therefore continuing its work to decide what happens next.”

The FSE-CSQ had for its part described it as “showde boucane” the new offer submitted Tuesday by Quebec. The Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, for his part, spoke of “significant improvements” and said that the Legault government was putting “a lot of things on the table”.

The FSE's counter-proposal is “faithful to the discussions of recent days, [the submission] is based on the priorities of teachers, namely the composition of the class and the reduction of the task” , writes the union on social networks.

The president of the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ), Éric Gingras, also deplored during a Common Front press conference Wednesday morning that the most recent offers tabled by the government do not hold up takes into account union demands, despite signs of openness reported at the start of the week.

“We are seeing openings on the priorities of teachers and colleagues from the Federation [FSE]. And when we arrive with a deposit that we further hammer into public opinion, in the public space, this does not even reflect the discussions of the last few days. »

Great concerns

Nicolas Prévost, president of the Fédération québécoise des directions d'establishements d'enseignement, believes that for students whose teachers are part of the FAE, the repercussions of the forced leave “are going to be even more dramatic” than during the COVID-19 pandemic when schools closed. By the time they return to class on January 8, children will have been away from school for seven weeks.

“There are no services [offered to students],” he says. There is no communication. During the pandemic, even if not all places were able to quickly implement distance learning, there was still teacher-student communication. »

According to Nicolas Prévost, it is certain that students will not have 180 days of class this year. The members of its Federation — who were surveyed this week — see two ways of rearranging the school calendar: transforming the remaining educational days into class days and condensing the end-of-year ministerial exams in secondary schools over a shorter period than the “usual two to three weeks.”

The spokesperson for the Regroupement des committees de parents nationaux du Québec, Sylvain Martel, believes for his part that the “worst scenario” is happening: students whose teachers are affiliated with the FAE are “slipping” into the holiday break without even having returned to school for a week.

“And there, this scenario of returning to class on January 8 is starting to be lame,” continues Sylvain Martel. This is not good news. »

For students on forced leave for a month to return to classes, the FAE must reach an agreement with the government, but so must the Common Front, as support employees and daycare educators do part of the grouping of four unions.

Many parents are worried, insists Sylvain Martel. “We have never had as many messages from parents as now. Even in a pandemic, we haven't had that many. » He fears that a phenomenon similar to the “summer slide” will occur during this long absence, that is to say that young people will lose academic skills as is the case during the summer holidays. “If school starts again on January 8, many students will have been absent for seven weeks,” he observes. Summer is eight weeks. »

Mélanie Laviolette, president of the Fédération des committees de parents du Québec, is concerned about the fate of more vulnerable students. “We are also concerned about the demotivation that we are starting to feel a little in some people,” she says. For our older children too, it can be a little more difficult to stay focused. »

With Alexandre Robillard

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