Daycare worker union 'worried' about Quebec's plan to hire staff who complete 90-hour training
The union representing the majority of Quebec's daycare workers is criticizing the government's decision to launch a skimpy 90-hour training program for people who want to be childcare workers but have no prior experience.
Stephanie Vachon, who represents about 12,000 daycare workers for the CSN, acknowledges there is a shortage of daycare workers in Quebec.
But she said that giving aspiring daycare workers so little training before giving them a job will simply help fill daycares with unqualified workers.
"We're worried," she said, "we're really worried because we think it's not a good idea."
A job posting looking for a "trainer" was sent out by CEGEP Marie-Victorin for a course that is supposed to start on June 5. CTV obtained a copy of the posting.
The description said the class "is designed for people who are unemployed or have no professional experience in childcare."
It explained that an instructor would be tasked with teaching students "the basic notions essential for working and quickly taking up jobs as unqualified early childhood educators (0-5 years)."
Vachon described the plan as a type of band-aid solution that will create new problems and said the union told the government as much last year when the idea was first floated.
"How can you replace three years by 90 hours?" Vachon said.
"The basic training, it's official and it's recognized, it's a profession — it's three years of technical college studies. And it must remain so."
Daycare workers are already stretched thin. If they're provided with unskilled helpers, they will have to do "double" the work, she said, monitoring the children and monitoring their lesser-trained colleagues.
Most of all, she and her colleagues are worried that the fast-track course, 90 hours over four weeks, as detailed on a government website, will devalue the profession after they worked so hard to have their expertise recognized.
Vachon, an early childhood educator herself in a CPE (Centre de la petite enfance), pointed out they are not babysitters; rather they're responsible for the children's development usually over several years.
It is possible, as the government is hoping, that once on the job, the fast-tracked candidate will seek out the proper training if they enjoy the environment, she said, and that would be a positive development, but there's no guarantee.
In the meantime, Vachon, who has known about the limited scope of the program for months, is concerned this quick-fix approach to filling jobs with unskilled workers will become a permanent trend.
Vachon said they've had no communication with the government on the subject since they voiced their disapproval last year.
In response to the union's concerns, a spokesperson from the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Families told CTV News that indeed the program "has been deployed as part of Operation Manpower."
It is not meant to turn out qualified educators, but rather to "prepare individuals for positions as unqualified early childhood educators (and) educational assistants," Bryan St-Louis said in an email.
It is open to anyone who is "at least 18 years old and has successfully completed Secondary 3," he said, adding that the training focuses on educational approaches and safety and also includes training in first-aid.
1/4 OF TEACHERS ARE NOT FULLY QUALIFIED
In a recent report, Quebec's auditor general said more than one-quarter of teachers who worked in the province's classrooms during the 2020-21 school year weren't legally qualified.
Guylaine Leclerc revealed that more than 30,000 people who taught in schools during that period did not earn a teaching certificate or a provisional qualification.
The Quebec government has said it turns to uncertified people to teach in schools because of a shortage of qualified teachers.
With files from The Canadian Press