MONTREAL -- The unlimited strike mandate by Quebec's public daycare (CPE) workers is 'hopeless for parents,' according to the chair of the Treasury Board, Sonia LeBel.

"The parents cannot tolerate it for very long. The unlimited general strike is hopeless for parents," said the minister in an interview on radio station 98.5 FM.

In a press briefing in Quebec City, Premier François Legault said he found the unlimited strike "terrible for parents, but also for children. It doesn't make sense what the unions are doing."

But he dismissed the idea of a special law for the moment.

The minister insists she offered up to $30 an hour -- the maximum of the salary scale and a 23 per cent increase -- to educators in the early childhood centres.

However, since then, the argument has morphed into one about the wages of other workers, such as kitchen, administration and maintenance staff.

"I cannot make the same effort for the other employees as I did for the educators," said LeBel.

LeBel has remained categorical: these workers will not benefit from the same percentage increase as educators.

She says she is offering an increase of 9.3 percent, in line with what was offered to their peers in the public sector.

However, according to the CSQ-affiliated Fédération des intervenantes en petite enfance (FIPEQ), the increase offered varies from six per cent to 9.3 per cent, depending on job title.

FIPEQ points out people doing the same jobs are already paid between 20 per cent and 35 per cent more in the public sector.

LeBel acknowledges that the daycare workers do not earn the same amount as their peers in the public sector, but argues this is due to the different duties and environment.

When asked whether or not the government is considering introducing a special legislation, LeBel says she is still hopeful for an agreement with the labour unions, but hints that all options are being explored.

When asked about introducing special legislation, Legault ruled it out for the time being: "At this point, we are not considering special legislation," he said.

LeBel argues parents will not be able to tolerate an unlimited strike for much longer.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Dec. 1, 2021.