A damning report from the ombudsman

14 June 2022

The Quebec Ombudsman has made public his special report “Putting Students First” which exposes major shortcomings in accessibility for students with special learning or adjustment needs.

Éric Pronovost, President of the Fédération du personnel de soutien scolaire (FPSS-CSQ), hopes that the Quebec Ombudsman’s recommendations will be implemented by the Ministry of Education and that collaboration between education community stakeholders is essential, so as to allow the school support staff providing these student services to participate in problem-solving meetings.

Daycare continuity

“Continuity of services is essential, and we have been saying for years that difficulties we see in daycare cross over into the classroom,” says Éric Pronovost. The Ombudsman’s report revealed that 77% of the parents consulted indicated that no special measures were provided in intervention plans when their child attended a school sector daycare.

Labour shortage and job insecurity

Repercussions of the labour shortage were noted in the report as a cause of students not receiving the services to which they are entitled. The Quebec Ombudsman says that “the Ministry of Education is responsible for funding services” and that school boards and school service centers “establish services based on available funds, not on the needs of the students.” He also recommends that there be a “prior discussion between the Ministry and the school boards and centers to establish how much funding is needed.”

The report also mentions how hard it is to fill certain positions, specifying that “One of the support staff job categories that is most difficult to fill is the one that involves direct services to students, a category that includes the Special Education Technicians that 79% of educational institutions are having difficulties filling.”

A minimum level of services to improve access

The Ombudsman recommends a minimum threshold of services to reduce the disparities between the provision of services and the access students with special needs have to these services, so that they do not differ from one school board or center to another, and that “the services be adequately funded.”

We’re here for the students

The President of the FPSS-CSQ reminds us that “we are here to meet the needs of the students, but we must give ourselves the means to do so.  We need concrete actions, such as giving our student service staff more hours to work on direct intervention and prevention.”