Shortage of staff in schools | “Heartbreaking Choices”

The staff shortage in schools is forcing school service centers to make “heartbreaking choices,” says the Association des directions générale scolaire du Québec. If, in Lac-Saint-Jean, we have chosen to reduce the number of 4-year-old kindergarten classes, elsewhere, we must resign ourselves to maintaining “basic” services for students, without adding any.

On Tuesday, the Pays-des-Bleuets school service center announced that it had made the decision to close half of its 4-year-old kindergarten classes at the start of the next school year due to the lack of teachers.

Its general manager, Patrice Boivin, explained in an interview to The Press that it was a well-considered decision. The next day, Education Minister Bernard Drainville lamented the planned closure of those classes and attributed the director general’s exit to his lack of experience.

However, sources who requested anonymity point out that Mr. Boivin has been in the school environment for thirty years, as a teacher, but also as a manager. “He’s an experienced guy,” said one of them.

The Pays-des-Bleuets school service center said Thursday that its director would not comment on the minister’s statement. A meeting should take place soon between the two men.


Lucien Maltais, President of the Association of General School Directors of Quebec

The fact remains that the situation experienced in Lac-Saint-Jean “eloquently illustrates the heartbreaking choices facing [les] general managers of school service centers in a context of unprecedented labor shortages,” said Lucien Maltais, president of the Association des directors générale scolaire du Québec.

“Faced with the scale of the challenge posed by this scarcity, the general managers are showing a great deal of ingenuity and creativity, in addition to deploying unsuspected recruitment efforts,” continues Mr. Maltais.

Services that are not offered

It is not only in Lac-Saint-Jean that the shortage is forcing us to review the services we offer to students.

In Abitibi, the Or-et-des-Bois school service center has not closed 4-year-old kindergarten classes, but has also had to “rearrange” remedial education services “in only a few schools for the moment. “, says his spokesperson, Caroline Neveu.

It specifies that 10% of teachers are not legally qualified (ie they do not have a teaching certificate), but “have expertise/training related to their subject”.

On the North Shore, the director of the Fer school service center, Richard Poirier, explains that he did not have to take “measures as drastic” as closing classes, but adds that “there are certain services which are not set up, for lack of manpower”.

He cites the example of tutoring which cannot be offered or remedial teachers who become class teachers in the absence of teachers. As far as possible, he adds, we try to maintain basic services and avoid service interruptions.

“We could easily recruit fifteen additional teachers tomorrow morning. I need professional staff, support staff…”, lists Mr. Poirier.

In the Portneuf region, near Quebec, it is also observed that recruiting personnel is difficult.

“We are sometimes uncovered in certain employment groups for a few days, but we manage (so far) to manage,” writes the director general of the Portneuf school service center, Marie-Claude Tardif.

We also do not envisage having to reduce complementary student services at this time. Increasing them will be more difficult, on the other hand, for lack of personnel…

Marie-Claude Tardif, Director General of the Portneuf School Service Center

Management also says that choices have to be made. “There are subsidies that are not used because we are short of staff,” says Carl Ouellet, president of the Quebec Association of School Management Staff.

“We try not to cut services, we prioritize, but sometimes we don’t have a choice: we don’t offer the service,” says Carl Ouellet, who believes that in the absence of sufficient staff, the problem will be “recurring” for “the next eight or ten years”.

Learn more

  • 92
    Number of full-time teaching positions to be filled

    Source: Ministry of Education (as of December 7, 2022)

  • 489
    Number of part-time teaching positions to be filled

    Source: Ministry of Education (as of December 7, 2022)

Shortage of staff in schools | “Heartbreaking Choices”