School Infrastructures – School Boards need to rely on support staff

27 August 2018

‘The Ministry of Education’s new investments will not meet all of our infrastructure needs, because they are so huge.  This could be an opportunity to hire more support staff to renovate buildings for several years, and ensure that facilities remain safe for as long as possible,” says Éric Pronovost, President of the Fédération du personnel de soutien scolaire (FPSS-CSQ).

Staff prepared to maintain our facilities

The President says: “Over the years, many schools have shown signs of wear caused by lack of maintenance.  School boards have often cut back on building maintenance due to lack of funding.  But there are already support staff in place who are prepared to restore and maintain them in good condition.”

The high price of abolishing positions

The union leader adds that: “We must not forget that support staff work in 81 different jobs, including cabinetmakers, electricians, carpenters, labourers, painters, pipefitters, glaziers and welders.  These women and men have the expertise to keep our institutions in good condition.  On the other hand, over the years, many positions have been abolished and outsourced, which has had the effect of considerably reducing the work performed by support staff, which now consists mainly of responding to emergencies or assisting outside workers.”

A competent workforce less expensive than going private

Éric Pronovost explains that if school boards hire support staff to restore our schools instead of using external labour, they would save a lot of money.  “The hourly wage of a support staff worker is less than a private sector worker, and the goal is not to make a profit.  An electrician’s salary, for example, is $25 an hour in a school setting, which is well below the $95 a contractor would charge.”

The FPSS-CSQ President encourages school boards to use their own staff rather than outsiders, because it’s a matter of skills and savings.

Changing budgetary regulations

Currently, a maximum of 4% of the budget envelope for facilities maintenance can be allocated to the remuneration of employees assigned to the realization of these projects.  This regulation can only result in regular staff being paid from the operating budget henceforth being paid from the investment budget.

M. Pronovost ends by saying: “This regulation must be changed: the government and the school boards would save a lot of money.”

Martin Cayouette, conseiller aux communications FPSS-CSQ