‘It’s micromanaging’: Unions say Quebec education reform won’t solve issues – Montreal

Dressed in medieval garb Friday, members of the Fédération du personnel de soutien scolaire (FPSS-CSQ) clamored that “his majesty” Quebec Education Minister Bernard Drainville doesn’t want to listen to school support staff.

Union members were outside Quebec’s National Assembly, upset they were not invited to hearings over Bill 23, the province’s education reform.

“Bottom line is you have to listen to what’s happening down (at ground level). It should go up and not the other way around,” said Julie Gervais, a special education technician.

Gervais says the minister is giving himself too much power. The union’s president agreed.

“His Majesty should make sure to use the school support staff already in place to promote the educational success of students, including the assessment of their needs, rather than giving himself more power in the matter,” said Éric Pronovost, president of the FPSS- CSQ.

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It’s a grievance shared by groups who did get invited to the hearings.

The Autonomous Federation of Teachers (FAE) says educators are discouraged.

“We fear it’s going to contribute to the staff shortage and push them to leave,” said Melanie Hubert, FAE’s president.

Click to play video: 'Concerns over education reform bill'

Concerns over education reform bill

They told Drainville his reforms were bound to fail.

“It doesn’t address any of the real and documented issues in public schools,” said Annie Primeau, a member of the FAE at the hearings Friday.

The federation wants the minister to go back to the drawing board.

“Is there anything good in the law?” Drainville asked the federation.

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The Centrale des syndicats du Québec, a union representing more than 200,000 educational staff, went after Bill 23’s proposed excellence in education institute, which would collect best practices across the network and share them.

“It’s micromanaging,” the union’s president Eric Gingras told Global News. “For sure we don’t think it’s necessary,” Gingras continued during the hearings.

Gingras fears the minister will impose unnecessary training on teachers.

Drainville tried to reassure him.

“It’s out of the question that the minister imposed specific training to specific teachers,” Drainville said.

The opposition says that the unions’ demands should be heard.

“I think the government needs to see them as partners, because they are taking care of our children at school,” said Liberal leader Marc Tanguay. “They need to make sure that everyone is on board.”

Québec solidaire suggested the minister should make improving workplace conditions a priority.

“What’s important for Mr. Drainville is to make sure to have teachers, and this comes with workplace conditions,” said Ruba Ghazal, Quebec solidaire education critic.

Ultimately, that’s what unions want.

As contract negotiations continue, the FAE says they’d rather sit at the negotiating table than at hearings for a bill that they say doesn’t solve the real issues.

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Click to play video: 'Quebec's proposed education reform is already under fire'

Quebec’s proposed education reform is already under fire

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