Measuring up to the Rest of Canada Part 1: Quebec vs New Brunswick

October 25, 2015

Those present at the meeting for the Montreal Teachers Association’s strike vote heard a number of remarkable things from our union leadership. QPAT’s chief negotiator, Olivier Dolbec, for example described the various times teachers had been legislated back to work as victories in which teachers came out ahead. Dolbec’s central piece of evidence for this claim was that the back-to-work legislation of 2005 won us our current limits on class size.

This might be an interesting point if it were true. In fact the current limits on class size were the central element in the 2010 negotiations that convinced teachers to vote in favour of a negotiated settlement. The 2005 strike resulted in teachers being legislated back to work with the exact provisions government had put on the table prior to the strike. In other words, this strike did absolutely nothing to move government from what it was intending to do all along. One would think that QPAT’s chief negotiator would have his facts straight on such matters.

As if this was not enough to cast serious doubt on the judgement and integrity of our chief negotiator, Mr Dolbec then stunned the room with this remarkable statement:

“This is – and I challenge anyone in the room to say the opposite – this is the best collective agreement for teachers AROUND THE WORLD”

WHS teacher Robert Lavoie has taken up Mr Dolbec’s challenge. In this the first of a multi-part series Mr Lavoie presents a thorough comparison of the collective agreement of Quebec’s teachers with that of New Brunswick’s.

– Robert Green

Measuring up to the Rest of Canada Part 1: Quebec vs New Brunswick

By Robert Lavoie

I have decided to do some research to establish if there are in fact any teacher’s contracts in other provinces that may possibly be better than the one that we toil under. This is the first of 9 installments of what I will call ‘Measuring up to the Rest of Canada’.

The first province that I have chosen is our affable bilingual neighbour and birthplace of my beautiful wife, New Brunswick.

Salary: A teacher in New Brunswick with the same qualifications as myself makes a max salary of $78,296 which is about $2,000 more than what I make. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Since there are far less steps in the NB teacher’s salary scale, by the time that a Québec teacher with 2 degrees reaches maximum salary, the NB teacher will have already earned more than 80,000$ more than his fat-cat Québec counterpart. This disparity will climb to over $120,000 by the time that the teachers retire after 35 years of service. Edge: New Brunswick…by a landslide.

WonkaDolbecClass size: It seems that the province of New Brunswick does believe that class size matters because they have a hard limit of 29 students per class throughout high school. It is also stipulated that normal class size shall be 26 students. In Quebec the limits vary according to grade and can be reduced further if there is a high proportion of students with special needs in the class. However, the limits currently in place can be easily exceeded by school boards paying a small amount of compensation to teachers with over-sized classes. Quebec’s system is therefore better described as a class size disincentive, rather than a hard limit. There is an article in the NB contract which states that in the establishment of class sizes, inclusion of special needs students shall be considered, but we all know where such vague language gets us here. Edge: New Brunswick

Length of school year: We work 200 days a year while our eastern neighbors work 195. Edge: New Brunswick

Hours of instruction per week: Our conditions appear to be quite similar. In high school they teach 4 periods of 60 minutes and have one prep period of 60 minutes. Edge: tie

Non-instructional time: The teacher that I talked to said that the norm is to have one duty per week at the high school level. Most Quebec teachers have multiple duties. Edge: New Brunswick

Sick days: the teachers of New Brunswick have 15 non-moneyable sick days per year that are bankable.  They need to be bankable because the employer does not cover the first two years of disability before long term disability kicks in, as is the case here in la Belle Province. There is, I am informed, some form of ‘sick insurance’ that you can buy. It is also possible to ‘borrow’ up to 10 sick days. Quebec teachers get 6 sick days, 5 of which are moneyable. Edge: this is debatable

Department heads: Those in New Brunswick are paid more than 3,500$ per year. Ours are presently
being paid about 30$ month. Edge: New Brunswick

Life insurance: Teachers of New Brunswick have 50% of the premium for 50,000$ of life insurance paid by their employer, which would equate to a savings of 40.95$ each if we were to pay for it under our plan. Ironically, we, as the employers of the staff at the MTA office pay 100% of the premium for the same benefit to our employees. Edge: New Brunswick

Health and dental insurance: The New Brunswick teachers have 50% of their dental insurance premiums and 50% of their health insurance premiums paid by their employer. Also, there are some provisions for the employer to contribute an additional 4,000,000$ to the plan, which would have the effect of driving the premiums down. This would equate to a saving of at least 1,900$ per year for me who has the family plan. Also ironic is the fact that we, as the employers of the staff at the MTA office pay 100% of the dental premiums of our employees. Edge: New Brunswick

Pension: This is a whole can of worms. On the one hand, the pension of the teachers of New Brunswick is 100% indexed, whereas ours has a few years of de-indexation. The Employer contributes about 57% compared to the 50% contribution of our employer. They can go on an unreduced pension at 91 years of age/service which puts it at around 60 years of age depending on your age when you started.

However, instead of the pension being 70% of the average of your best 5 or 8 years, it is 70% of the average of your career of 35 years, which works out to about 13% reduction in the pension which is very bad. Edge: Québec…for now.

Conclusion: The working conditions of the teachers in New Brunswick appear to be far better than those of the teachers of Québec. So, for now we will have to accept, grudgingly, that we are no longer number 1 in the confederation of Canada. Next stop, the birthplace of Mr. Hockey: Saskatchewan.

5 Comments to “Measuring up to the Rest of Canada Part 1: Quebec vs New Brunswick”

  1. Some good points, Robert. But we do have the better retirement deal with moneyable days. And besides, who the heck wants to live in New Brunswick? 🙂 To me the most important thing is curriculum. Are they also subservient to unproven pedagogical hocus-pocus-philosophy peddled by our bureaucrats? And do their teachers’ colleges also have low standards? Do they also have mark inflation?

  2. As you’ve heard, just announced this AM: “Quebec’s Liberal government and the Caisse will together commit more than $1-billion to Bombardier in an announcement expected Thursday morning ahead of the company’s latest earnings report, said one person with knowledge of the situation. The exact amount remained unclear.”…well there goes a pile of money that could have gone towards education!

  3. Interesting that the only province to be compared with is New Brunswick. Try NL, ON, AB and you will quickly see 100% benefits paid in most cases. Starting salaries $10K+ more and $20K -$25K more with 10 yrs of experience.

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