5 April 2018
The Hidden Costs of Volunteer Work
“The government is shirking its responsibilities when it allows painting, sandblasting, varnishing, and gyprock, doors and windows installation to be done by volunteers. Unfortunately, it is school boards that are likely to suffer the financial consequences of poorly executed work, as is currently the case at the Commission scolaire des Hautes-Rivières.”
Mélanie Renaud, Vice President of the Fédération du personnel de soutien scolaire (FPSS-CSQ), believes that other school boards may sooner or later have to deal with the same hidden costs if the government does not step in to regulate this sort of volunteer work.
“When you have to redo work already done, you soon realize that volunteering is expensive. The Council of Commissioners of the Commission scolaire des Hautes-Rivières has just come to this realization. It has now adopted rules of supervision to make sure volunteer work does not generate more costs than profits,” explains Mélanie Renaud.
Problems for school boards
Renaud deplores that fact that changes made to regulations governing voluntary construction work by Minister Dominique Vien have not solved the problems encountered on the ground.
“Nothing is settled at the school board level. As long as the Minister does not clearly regulate such work, the problem will persist,” says the FPSS-CSQ Vice President.
Avoidable additional costs
Mélanie Renaud says her union organization has already publicly expressed concerns that poorly executed volunteer work incurs additional costs for school boards. “That’s what seems to be starting to happen. With no contractual obligations, school boards have no guarantee that work will be properly carried out and no recourse in the event of hidden defects. In such cases, who will be liable if the work is not done properly?” asks the union leader.
She also denounces the fact that, if work needs to be redone, the situation could have consequences for pupils who attend the school. “When they relinquish these responsibilities to school boards, the government burdens them with additional financial risks with virtually no legal recourse when volunteer work causes problem,” explains Mélanie Renaud.
A call for caution
The President of the FPSS-CSQ wants Quebec school boards to be cautious before opening the door wide to volunteer work. “I’m also calling on the government to fully assume its responsibilities by restoring funding to our public education system to ensure for our youth quality education in safe and supportive facilities beneficial to their education and development. We are not opposed to volunteer work in schools, but it needs to be supervised,” concludes Mélanie Renaud.