Unsettling news which affects our schools in Park-Extension comes as the post-pandemic crisis brings a shortage of more than 1,600 jobs, including nearly 450 part-time teaching positions, are still vacant in Quebec schools, two months after the start of the school year.
This number could be even higher in reality, as it comes from the Ministry of Education’s data collection, in which only 51 of the 72 school service centers. This total includes full-time and part-time teaching positions, as well as professional and support staff positions. As of October 12, 446 part-time positions were unfilled in the school network, according to figures from the Ministry of Education.
Since the start of the school year, Quebec has refused to release this data, limiting itself to releasing data on the number of full-time vacancies, which stood at 96 on October 19.
Education experts had denounced this lack of transparency on the part of the ministry, which was criticized for wanting to hide an important part of the reality.
“What’s worrying is that compared to other years, the number of vacancies doesn’t really decrease from one week to the next. We no longer have anyone to fill these positions,” said Nicolas Prévost president of the Quebec Federation of Directors of Educational Institutions (FQDE) to the media.
Lack of replacements
The situation is even more dramatic when it comes to replacements according to the FQDE.
“Once we have a request for a replacement, we can’t do it anymore,” says Nicolas Prévost. Other school officials are then called upon to do what is called “troubleshooting.” A group of students can then see up to five different adults parade in front of the class during the same day.
The Federation of Teachers’ Unions (FSE-CSQ) also said the situation was “traumatic”. “Such a shortage, we have never seen it before,” says its president, Jose Scalabrini.
Hundreds of vacant professional posts in schools
It’s not just teachers missing from the school network, which is also looking for more than 200 full-time psychologists and speech therapists. In total, about 500 professional positions remain vacant, according to the trade union federation that represents them.
As of mid-October, there were 119 vacancies for psychologists and 97 speech therapists in Quebec schools, according to Education Ministry figures, not counting those part-time positions.
However, the shortage of psychologists has existed for several years in the school network, where their number is constantly decreasing. In 2010 it was 1,039 and in 2022 it was 881, according to data from the Order of Quebec Psychologists, while in the same period the number of students has probably increased.
Same story from the side of the Order of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists of Quebec. Its president, Paul-André Gallant, notes “discomfort” among its members who work in the school network, where the needs are enormous.
In the Quebec Federation of Education Professionals, it is estimated that the school network has reached a breaking point. According to a recent report by the Quebec Ombudsman, 42% of parents of students with special needs were asked to turn to the private sector to get services for their child because the school was unable to provide them.
Sources: Quebec ministry of education, Quebec Federation of Education Professionals, Quebec Federation of Directors of Educational Institutions, Federation of Teachers’ Unions, Journal de Montréal