MONTREAL -- With just a few days remaining before school starts, unions are raising concerns about a teacher shortage.

There are currently job openings for about 500 teachers across Quebec, with the teachers' unions pointing out that many teachers are deciding to retire rather than risk their health during the pandemic. 

Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge said that people are being hired every day, and blamed the overall problem on the previous government.

"I think we have this problem because the past government didn't (value) educate that much. They didn't invest to renovate, to enlarge schools. It sends a strong message when you let schools diminish. When you don' renovate schools who need the money, it sends the wrong message," said Roberge, pointing to the announcement Thursday that it would speed up construction and renovation projects planned in schools.

"We are sending a brand new message. We will have a brand new generation of schools. We are enlarging schools, we are renovating schools," he said.

Teachers unions are particularly worried about how substitute teachers will be used in the coming school year, since many move between schools.