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Legault outlines deal with teachers, but warns of budget deficits

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After a turbulent few months of negotiations, strikes, and union votes, the Quebec government has outlined some "massive" education investments, promising to improve working conditions for the province's teachers.

But these investments will have "financial consequences," Quebec Premier François Legault told reporters on Sunday, warning that the next budget will be "largely in deficit."

"I'll tell you right away: we find ourselves with a budget that is significantly in deficit. Much more in deficit than it was before these negotiations," he said.

The premier nevertheless stood by the decision, which he described as "responsible."

The renewal of collective agreements comes with three objectives, according to the provincial government:

  • Providing more help for teachers and students
  • Giving teachers more autonomy
  • Ensuring more stability in Quebec schools

Advances include hiring 4,000 additional classroom assistants, freeing teachers from recess supervision, and allowing teachers to work from home five out of 20 days.

"Without solving everything, these measures will have positive and concrete repercussions and will allow us to continue building a stronger education network in the years to come," said Education Minister Bernard Drainville in a press release.

In addition to these changes, Quebec has increased the top of the pay scale for education workers.

The maximum annual salary will rise from:

  • $92,000 to $109,000 for teachers
  • $98,000 to $135,000 for school psychologists
  • $65,000 to $77,000 for special education technicians

Daycare educators, who will now be classified as classroom assistants, will see their salaries double from $27,000 to $56,000, and their schedules will change from 20 to 35 hours per week.

The changes follow a months-long battle between teacher's unions and the Quebec government.

Unions associated with the Common Front held intermittent strikes, while teachers Fédération autonome de l'enseignement (FAE) went on a general strike for 22 days, shuttering schools across the province.

After much back-and-forth, unions had narrowly reached deals with the province by early February.  

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