Students across Canada have started a new school year, but even as they open their books, teachers and those who represent them are concerned that nothing is yet being done to address the current teacher shortage. form an ocean to another.
Shortages vary from province to province. Some, like Nova Scotia, say most full-time positions are filled, but they have problems in terms of replacing teachers. In the North, Nunavut reports a vacancy rate of 9 to 10 percent at the start of the school year, and while some schools are fully staffed, other communities are struggling.
And in Quebec, two weeks ago, Education Minister Bernard Drainville confirmed that as school neared, the province was short of 1,859 full-time and 6,699 part-time teachers. , bringing a total of 8,558 missing teachers.
Teachers say the variation impacts what they can offer students and that in the case of those who help some of the most vulnerable, such as those with disabilities or who have other support, that support may not also be available.
Gurpreet Kaur Bains, a learning support and language teacher at a British Columbia high school, said declining teacher numbers mean educators like her are being displaced to fill unfilled spots in schools. other cla*srooms. But as a result, the attention she would normally give to individual students is lost.
“Basically, children on IEPs (individual education plans) who have special needs and some of whom really need that support on a day-to-day basis don’t get it,” she told PKBNEWS on Tuesday. .
She added that when they are “small” in the cla*s, other teachers, librarians, special education teachers and even counselors will be asked to enter another person’s cla*s to replace them. She added that the lack of resources leads to mental health issues. problems and burnout among teachers, calling it a “crisis situation”.
This is just one of the problems facing schools across the country.
In Saskatchewan, the province’s teachers’ federation says it is seeing a “significant” number of uncertified teachers arriving in schools. President Samantha Becotte said these teachers, who often don’t have a bachelor’s degree in education and have only been out of high school for four years, are put in front of the cla*s.
“If I were to think that my own children had an uncertified individual…four years out of high school and no further education, I would be very concerned about the level of support they were able to provide my children,” a- she declared.
In that province, according to the Saskatchewan Professional Teachers Regulatory Board, a temporary teacher’s license is granted to individual applicants who do not have a provincial teacher’s certificate but who have graduated from high school at least four years previously and who prefer to have a post-secondary education. specialized education or sk**l – such as proficiency in a specific language.
But Becotte said that while some educators in schools without a bachelor’s degree may have specialized sk**ls like practical and applied arts teachers, she is still concerned that others who may have very little training but are sent to cla*s. She added that teachers with the necessary training often have specialized sk**ls that enable them to meet a variety of needs and cla*s sizes.
Nunavut Teachers’ Association president Justin Matchette says he’s also seen untrained teachers come to teach in the territory, which he says “devalues our profession.”
“You just send someone to a cla*sroom and tell them they can do the job, they are someone who has worked very hard for their position and their career,” he said. declared. “It really devalues what we do and it really devalues the education that students get.”
Matchette said that while the new school year has yet to see any cancellations, some had to tell some cla*ses last year that there was no school for them that day because they couldn’t find a teacher to teach it. He said part of the problem is that many communities in Nunavut have no substitute teachers available.
“People don’t want to come in and have a headache if they don’t want to,” Matchette said. “Wages are not competitive enough. »
He explained that he has discovered that some teachers can find work in a different employment sector, not only for pay, but also because there is less demand, less stress and they are in able to find more support than teachers receive, he said.
Ryan Lutes, president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, told PKBNEWS that’s also where the province is experiencing its greatest shortage of substitute teachers.
Lutes said it was a mix of issues, including the lack of stability the role offers.
“It’s hard to wake up in the morning not knowing where you’re going to be or if you’re going to be called,” he said. “We ask people to want to get into this profession of teaching, which can be a great profession, and then we tell people, ‘OK, you’re going to have to work for a few years on a salary that doesn’t allow you to live on.’ .”
He said a substitute teacher in Nova Scotia makes between $32,000 and $35,000 a year. According to the Halifax Regional Education Center, the daily rate for a substitute teacher is $177.67.
In the face of continued nationwide shortages, Lutes said the government needs to take more action to address the various issues, including the lack of support felt by many teachers.
“We need to make teaching, substitute teaching, but also full-time teaching, a respected profession where you can make ends meet and live a good life,” Lutes said.
Matchett added that the teaching profession also needs to be more like a “family.”
“We need our government to act in a timely and professional manner so that our members feel supported and feel like part of a family here,” he said. “We really can’t afford to lose any more.”
British Columbia Premier David Eby acknowledged the province’s labor shortage on Monday, but said many challenges were faced in many sectors of the province due to the growth of the workforce. province.
“We think the shortages we face are certainly serious and we need to pay attention to them and recruit and train additional teachers, but all children will receive a good education in British Columbia,” he told reporters. .
He also reiterated earlier comments from the province’s education minister that British Columbia had added more than 250 teacher training seats at universities to address the issue and was looking into recognizing qualifications of teachers trained abroad.
But teacher Annie Ohana, who is also a local representative for the Surrey Teachers Association, said not enough was still being done as many felt they could no longer keep up. She said that while some claim that there is a five-year burnout rate among teachers, she believes the rate is still lower and therefore teachers are leaving the profession for other jobs.
Ohana added that the education system, like the health system, is in crisis but is being treated differently.
“If parents or community members really care about a decent education, it’s like a hospital. I see (education) as part of the health system,” she said. “They lack nurses, doctors and all kinds of specialists in their world. Nobody supports that. »
And Ohana says that means a lack of support for both teachers and students.
“Children themselves don’t get this support and teachers are overworked because they are being asked to do more and more,” she said. “When the reality is with more teachers in the field, it would be a little easier to teach and take on all the other teacher responsibilities. »