24 September 2018
2018 Provincial Election
Representatives of the Fédération du personnel de soutien scolaire (FPSS-CSQ) paid a visit to the electoral offices of candidates of the four main parties who are responsible for education issues. “Since no one ever bothers to talk about school support staff, we delivered our message in person,” says FPSS-CSQ President Éric Pronovost.
These uninvited drop-ins led to a meeting with Carole Poirier of the Parti Québécois and telephone conversations with Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois of Québec Solidaire and Jean-François Roberge of the Coalition Avenir Québec. We are still waiting for Sébastien Proulx of the Quebec Liberal Party to call us back.
Our main demands revolve around four topics. Reducing precariousness, reducing outsourcing, increasing wages and improving working conditions.
Mr. Pronovost says that “the vast majority, 70%, of school support staff are in precarious situations and there are simply too many small jobs of about ten hours per week. It is impossible to get by without a second job. Unfortunately, this situation has led to a shortage of staff in several job categories, “affecting direct services to students, with school boards finding it difficult to fill many positions.”
Over the years, many manual services have been handed to external subcontractors. Éric Pronovost suggests that “school support staff have undergone criminal background checks as protection for our children, something which is not always true of community organizations and private companies.”
There are also significant financial savings when support staff are hired to renovate buildings: “Our manual workers are two to three times cheaper and are more personally attached to the projects we give them, so we need to rely on them more.”
To attract workers, we need to increase wages “which are lower than in the municipal, federal and private sectors. We will need some serious raises to fix this!”
Workloads have been steadily increasing for the last five years and “not replacing people who retire is resulting in despair and professional burnout.”
Valuing School Support Staff
Despite what people might think, support staff play an important role in the education sector. On any given day, a student will interact with a support staff member between 20 and 25 times.
Whether providing support to teachers, professionals, administrators, parents, students or the school board, support staff are essential to Quebec schools.
The Fédération du personnel de soutien scolaire (FPSS-CSQ) represents more than 81 job categories, ranging from direct services to students to administrative, manual, technical and paratechnical support staff.
Mr. Pronovost concludes by saying “we will repeat our message on September 27, National School Support Staff Day: WE are also education!”
Martin Cayouette, Communication Advisors FPSS-CSQ