SHERBROOKE, QC, March 4 /CNW Telbec/ - The shortage of education professionals in the school boards of Estrie is severely affecting both student services, causing wait times of up to one year, and staff, many of whom are suffering from burnout.
This is the main conclusion of an extensive consultation that the Fédération des professionnelles et professionnels de l'éducation du Québec (FPPE-CSQ) conducted with its members. FPPE president Mr. Jean Falardeau announced the results for Estrie at a press conference. He was accompanied by the spokeperson for the Syndicat des professionnelles et professionnels des Commissions scolaires de l'Estrie (SPPCSE), Mr. Michel Laliberté, delegate for the Sherbrooke unit and Ms. Stéphanie Perreault, delegate for the Eastern Townships School Board.
Over a year for a speech-language evaluation
The president of the FPPE-CSQ, Mr. Jean Falardeau, claims that there is a blatant shortage of resources in the four school boards (Hauts-Cantons, Sommets, Région de Sherbrooke and Eastern Townships).
"All categories of professionals are affected, including guidance counsellors, psychologists, psychoeducators, speech therapists, orthopedagogues, spiritual care and guidance and community involvement animators, preschool education consultants, education consultants, and academic and vocational information counsellors. The wait times are particularly long for speech therapy and it can take over one year to get an evaluation. This is ridiculous, because the student's problem seriously worsens over this length of time," Mr. Falardeau explains.
Too many students and too many schools per professional
Mr. Falardeau explains that professionals are each assigned far too many students and must travel to several schools.
"The workload required of professionals is simply unrealistic. In these circumstances, there is less and less time spent on direct services for students, there is virtually no prevention, only priorities can be addressed, i.e. only the most urgent cases, so that hundreds of students who have needs and who are suffering are being left behind," says the president of the FPPE-CSQ.
Burnout and abandonment
In this context, Mr. Falardeau adds that it should come as no surprise that professional burnout is more and more common.
"Every day, professionals have to deal with the stress of a far too heavy workload, pressure, anxiety and the dissatisfaction of seeing that they cannot help all students with needs. Many are literally worn out and even call into question their future as professionals. The poor quality of working conditions makes it harder and harder to retain professional staff or recruit newcomers, which means that the situation of those currently on the job is only getting worse," deplores Mr. Jean Falardeau.
A discouraging situation
SPPCSE spokesperson Mr. Michel Laliberté readily describes how discouraging it is to see large numbers of children with dyslexia and other problems being left to their own devices because there are no resources to provide real follow-up.
"The fact that we no longer have time to do prevention means we can't screen students and intervene early to help them. This means that the students' problems are exacerbated before they are detected, and we wind up with more serious cases that require much more extensive and complex interventions. Our capacity for intervention is thus increasingly limited because our staff are never supplemented to deal with growing needs. This is extremely unfortunate because we see more and more youths whose educational success and future are jeopardized, and we can't do anything about it," says Mr. Laliberté.
Mr. Michel Laliberté adds that the situation is not much better in adult education and vocational training. "The same holds true in this sector, where professional services are also blatantly inadequate, due to a shortage of psychologists, psychoeducators, speech therapists and special education teachers," he explains.
Government must take action
Mr. Jean Falardeau, Mr. Michel Laliberté and Ms. Stéphanie Perreault believe that the stakeholders in the region's education community, and particularly parents, must rally to condemn this situation and join forces to demand that the Québec government provide them with the professional resources needed to provide all of their students with an equal chance at achieving educational success.
The CSQ represents about 170,000 members, including 100,000 in the public sector. It is the largest education union in Québec. The CSQ is also active in health and social services, childcare services, and the municipal, recreational, cultural, community and communications sectors.
The Fédération des professionnelles et professionnels de l'éducation du Québec (FPPE-CSQ) represents 20 unions bringing together 6,000 members working in virtually all of Québec's French-language, English-language, Cree and Kativik school boards. Its members belong to various personnel categories, in administration, pedagogy and direct student services.
For further information: For further information: François Beauregard, CSQ Information officer, Cell.: (514) 219-3059, firstname.lastname@example.org