Education support staff shortage in Outaouais schools sparks union concerns
As the Outaouais region grapples with a significant teacher shortage, a major union has issued a warning, shedding light on the equally pressing issue of finding adequate support staff for the area's schools.
Eric Pronovost, President of the Fédération du personnel de soutien scolaire (FPSS-CSQ), expressed the ongoing challenges faced by schools in Outaouais, emphasizing the critical shortage of support staff. Pronovost noted that this problem has persisted for over a decade and has now reached a crisis point.
He stated, "In schools, the shortage of support staff is where we exist. It's where we've been for about 12-13 years now. We're going to hit the wall, in other words, there will be a huge shortage of support staff, and that's what we're experiencing at the moment."
One significant issue highlighted by Pronovost is the job insecurity faced by many support staff members. He noted that a staggering 78% of the members represented by the FPSS-CSQ are grappling with job insecurity, typically working fewer than 20 hours per week. This situation, Pronovost argued, is deterring potential new recruits from entering the profession.
To address this shortage of new staff, Pronovost emphasized the need to reduce job insecurity rates. He explained, "To reduce the shortage of new staff, we need to reduce the rate of job insecurity to ensure that we can give many more hours to work in a safe environment so that we can make the right interventions and have the time to prepare our interventions."
Pronovost attributed the shortage of support staff to various factors, including increased taxes and the practice of replacing only one worker for every three who retire. These factors, combined with the demanding nature of the profession, have led many to seek employment elsewhere.
He expressed his concern for the well-being of support staff, especially in light of the challenges they have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pronovost underscored that support staff require better working conditions and higher pay to retain and attract talent to the profession.
"We're talking about working conditions, salary conditions. The police got a 21% increase, our MPs got a 30% increase, and we got 9% over 5 years with a $1,000 increase. That's unacceptable, it's unacceptable, it's a lack of respect for the people who work, a lack of appreciation," Pronovost stated.
In conclusion, Pronovost called for respectful negotiations and discussions with the government to address these pressing issues, emphasizing the importance of taking school personnel seriously. He urged for better working conditions, increased salaries, and a collaborative approach to finding solutions for the ongoing challenges in Outaouais schools.
Photo caption: Critical school staff shortages: Eric Pronovost, President of the Fédération du personnel de soutien scolaire, warns that changes are needed to turn the situation around.
Photo credit: Courtesy of the FPSS-CSQ.