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Common front teachers to eventually earn 23.5% more in new Quebec deal

After months of strike actions, public sector workers under the common front will start to vote on an agreement in principle reached by the Quebec government and their union leaders.  (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press - image credit)
After months of strike actions, public sector workers under the common front will start to vote on an agreement in principle reached by the Quebec government and their union leaders. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press - image credit)

According to documents obtained by Radio-Canada on Monday, Quebec teachers in the multi-union coalition, known as the common front, are set to receive an average salary increase of 23.5 per cent over five years, factoring in the effect of starting salaries and annual increases.

Earlier this month, the common front published and then withdrew a news release saying it had secured pay increases of 17.4 per cent over five years for the 420,000 public sector workers it represents.

Radio-Canada has since obtained documents showing the first year of the agreement provides for an increase of six per cent. Subsequently, the increases are in the order of 2.8 per cent for 2024, 2.6 per cent for 2025, 2.5 per cent for 2026 and 3.5 per cent for 2027.

Common front teachers at the bottom of the salary scale earned annual salaries of $46,527 per year in March 2023. But, in April 2027, the bottom of the salary scale will be $56,012, an approximately 20 per cent increase.

At the top of the scale, a teacher whose salary was $92,027 per year in March 2023 will see their salary increase to $109,151 per year by April 2027, an 18.6 per cent increase.

Substitutes with at least 16 years on the job will see their pay go from $46.52 for an hour-long period to $100.28.

For the teachers' federation, Fédération de l'enseignement du Québec, 3,350 new permanent positions will be opened. A new status will also be created, that of permanent, part-time teacher, documents show.

Primary school teachers to ditch supervision duties

By the 2027-2028 school year, primary school teachers will no longer be expected to supervise students outside of the classroom. This measure will cost the government more than $40 million, Radio-Canada has learned.

More resources will be added to kindergarten classes, and in difficult high school environments, special education technicians, among others, will be added. In total, these measures will cost just over $43 million.

Radio-Canada obtained this information during an online meeting of an education union in the Eastern Townships Monday — the same day that 420,000 unionized public sector workers began voting on the agreement in principle reached with the Quebec government regarding their new collective deals.

Members of the common front, a coalition of unions that represent education, health-care and social services workers, have until Feb. 19 to weigh in on the agreement.

Union presidents have said in recent days they were comfortable with the agreement reached with the province on Dec. 28 and know their members are eager to see the contents of the tentative deals.

EMSB union pleased

Lori Newton said the agreement on the table is in line with many of the teachers' demands. She is president of the Montreal teacher's association, which represents all teachers of the English Montreal School Board.

"I think there's a lot in this agreement that is really productive for teachers that does respond to a lot of the demands that we had been making on their behalf at the negotiating table," he said.

Another education union, the FAE, was on a general strike for 22 days, keeping 368,000 students out of school.

The FAE has also reached a deal in principle and its 66,000 members will be voting on the proposal over the next few weeks.

The FAE is not part of the common front, but it has a contractual clause to ensure its members will never earn less than their colleagues.

At the sectoral level, a number of health-care unions have already revealed the contents of their agreement, such as bonuses, overtime pay and better involvement in the management of working hours.

The common front walked out for a total of 11 days in November and December and had threatened an unlimited strike this month.

Pushing for better working conditions 

Roberto Bomba, treasurer of the Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ), said negotiations are ongoing, but there is certainly no deal yet.

"Things are advancing," he said. "We're confident and we're determined."

The FIQ is Quebec's largest nurses' union and it has been striking intermittently since November while still maintaining essential services.

Bomba said the union's priority is attracting and retaining workers, while the government is insisting on mandatory reassignment.

Having 140 patients in a long-term care home and one nurse on duty is unacceptable, he said, and with Quebec's elderly population growing, there is a higher demand for care.

"We need to have adequate staffing in all the health-care sectors," Bomba said. "That's one of the key elements."

Treasury Board President Sonia LeBel declined to comment on progress in negotiations.