Labour shortages, inflation, education, early childhood, healthcare, higher education, pay equity, environment and economic transition, living conditions of our elders, Indigenous issues... These are but a few of the issues that we did not hear nearly enough about throughout the election campaign that just drew to a close. Unbelievable. But these issues will most definitely be central to our activities, our daily lives and our actions for the months ahead. Inevitably, they will also make the headlines and gain traction in the public sphere.

We all remember that education was among the previous election’s priorities and that there was a broad social consensus on the issue’s importance, right? Have things changed so very much in the past four years to explain how it failed to be as important this time around? I don’t think so!

Political involvement: more than election campaigns!

It is very frustrating to see fundamental issues related to education—and the same could be said about healthcare and early childhood—be reduced to random ideas thrown about and the next media spin. Clearly, the CSQ’s efforts to show the significance of our political involvement, both as an organization and as members, is worth pursuing and merits further exploration.

Strategically, the election campaign provided a great window of opportunity, but our political involvement is so much more. This was not an end in itself, far from it! It will take many forms, as circumstances warrant, and will take hold, slowly but surely, in our practices, becoming second nature. As it should be.

We need to keep in mind that our working conditions go far beyond the collective bargaining process and that we need to do more, and better, to make things happen! Political involvement means giving ourselves the necessary tools to take full responsibility of our role as a central organization.

Shortages: like putting a square peg in a round hole?

Staff shortages is the hot topic across all our networks as we begin the next round of public sector negotiations. Consultations are coming to an end in education, healthcare and at the college level, and we are set to table our demands. One thing is clear: we will need much more than recruitment campaigns to deal with these shortages.

As a matter of fact, these recruitment campaigns to attract new personnel—teachers, support staff and professionals—for our schools and centres will impact the staff’s morale if they do not involve tangible solutions to truly acknowledge and promote their skills and professionalism as well as to attract and retain new workers across our public networks.

So no, shortages are not like putting a square peg in a round hole. But we do need a solid foundation: better working conditions. Members have clearly stated that attraction and retention issues lead to a heavier workload for current employees, which in turn discourages newcomers from applying and scares away too many colleagues. This is a vicious cycle that we need to break. And to accomplish that, we need further investments.

And what about negotiations?

We have our work cut out for us as we start this new school year. But when comes time to speak up for our members, their needs, their demands? We are here! To improve working conditions for workers in the education, college and healthcare networks? We are here!

To provide services to the entire population of Québec, to take care of the little ones, of children, of the sick, of our elders? We are here! At school, in our hospitals, in home care, in CEGEPs, and to build Québec’s future, we are here!

We need to do things differently in the next round of negotiations. There is just no reason to relive the drama of past negotiations. We believe in social dialogue and we hope it will take place when we finally meet at the bargaining table. Because the goal is to stop the hemorrhaging, draw in new employees across our networks and take care of our people.

At the CSQ, we are here!