Teachers are exhausted, rep says

By Matthew McCully

Earlier this week the provincial government introduced financial incentives to attract newly retired teachers to the education network to help address staff shortages.
According to Heidi Yetman, President of the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers (QPAT), the system is in need of a bigger fix and the incentive program, targeting only newly retired teachers, creates two classes of substitutes.
Previously, substitute teachers needed to work 20 days before being paid according to their level of experience. There are 17 different steps to gauge experience, Yetman explained.
With the incentive program, retired teachers would be welcomed back into the system at their highest level of experience, close to double what a regular substitute teacher earns.
The returning retirees would also benefit from some double dipping, meaning in addition to being paid upwards of $400 per day, the program would not affect pensions.
“If you’re going to do this,” Yetman said, incentives should be available to all substitutes, not just the newly retired teachers. “Treat them all the same.”
It’s probably not the greatest idea, Yetman added, for the government to appeal to a population vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 to work in a high-risk environment.
According to Yetman, the low bank of substitutes is part of a bigger problem.
QPAT sent out a survey to its 8,000 members last week to see how teachers are faring.
“They are exhausted, and we’re only three weeks into school,” Yetman said.
“It feels like December in September,” she said.
Aside from the physical strain of wearing a mask and visor for almost the whole day, teachers have the added burden of extra disinfecting and monitoring public health safety measures.
Yetman said according to 70 per cent of survey respondents, staying two metres away from students is impossible.

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