MONTRÉAL, Sept. 1, 2017 /CNW Telbec/ - The Fédération nationale des enseignantes et enseignants du Québec (FNEEQ–CSN) and the Fédération des employé-es de services publics (FEESP–CSN) is disappointed that the Birnbaum report, tabled earlier this week by Hélène David, Minister of Higher Education, entirely dismissed the possibility of making Champlain Regional College's three campuses independent. However, the unions that represent employees at the Saint-Lambert and St. Lawrence campuses do see some positive elements in the report. Among other things, the report shows a good grasp of the daily problems employees are experiencing and correctly concludes that the solution must include greater autonomy for the campuses. The CSN applauds the work done by David Birnbaum, who took the time to listen and to meet with all stakeholders who wished to do so.
"In our view, the proposals don't go far enough," said Nicole Lefebvre, Vice-President of FNEEQ–CSN. "The report provides a fairly accurate picture of the issues and it points to greater autonomy for the campuses as a way forward. But its recommendations are likely to miss their mark if the three campuses are kept under a single bureaucratic structure, as the report proposes. The whole question of funding remains to be resolved. Despite all the efforts staff are making, students at the three campuses aren't getting the same level of service as students who attend an independent Cégep. We are disappointed that the report entirely dismissed the possibility of turning the campuses into Cégeps like the others."
Champlain Regional College (CRC) is the only one of its type in Québec, with three campuses located in three administrative regions (Saint-Lambert in Montérégie, St. Lawrence in Québec City, and Lennoxville in the Eastern Townships). The CSN believes the situation is not comparable to that of Cégep régional de Lanaudière, which has three campuses within a 40-minute drive and students with very different needs. The Cégep funding model, which was designed to finance fully independent campuses, does not take sufficient account of this factor. It is the CSN's view that CRC's campuses are not only under-funded but poorly funded, since some of the money they currently receive goes to support an additional interregional structure that has proved unable to address the different campus's needs. Employees also complain of lack of transparency at the interregional body and its tendency to want to control everything.
"We don't think the important role played by support staff has received enough attention," said Sylvie Tremblay, Vice President/Treasurer of FEESP–CSN. "Every day, we see students having trouble accessing the services we provide because we don't have enough resources. We are very aware that the entire Cégep system is underfunded but the problem is even more acute here. It is aggravated by the fact that we have no local control. The decisions are made far away and there is a serious lack of transparency."
The CSN believes CRC's structure is at the root of its governance and management problems. The recommendations designed to give the campuses greater autonomy will therefore be very difficult to implement. "Increasing the travel allowance for some administrators so they can visit each campus more often won't be enough unless all the players are truly committed to making autonomy work," said Sylvie Tremblay. "We can only hope that the person Minister David appoints to support the College will have the leadership and listening skills to help instill a new atmosphere."
"We must bear in mind that the teachers and other staff identify mainly with their own campus," added Nicole Lefebvre. "They are proud of it. The staff must be given the tools they need to accomplish their mission."
For further information: Jean-Pierre Larche, Information-CSN, 514 605-0757 or firstname.lastname@example.org