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Bill 21 Has Made The Quebec Teacher Shortage Worse, Sikh Organization Spokesperson Says

She says a new CAQ campaign to hire more teachers proves it.
Bill 21 Has Made The Quebec Teacher Shortage Worse, Sikh Organization Spokesperson Says
  • A new campaign to hire more teachers for Quebec proves that Bill 21 has made the provincial teacher shortage worse, a spokesperson for the World Sikh Organization tells MTL Blog.
  • The Bill, which forbids teachers from wearing religious symbols, sends a message that religious minorities aren't welcome, she says.

Quebec's Ministry of Education and Higher Learning launched an international campaign yesterday in the hope of attracting teachers to come work in la belle province. Reports of a teacher shortage have been commonplace in Quebec for months now, with schoolsall over the province struggling to maintain the necessary number of qualified teachers.  Alongside reports of this shortage are stories of qualified teachers who are opting to find work outside Quebec due to the newly imposed legislation that bans public servants, like teachers, from wearing religious symbols while at work in public schools.

One example is teacher Amrit Kaur, who grew up in Quebec and has since left the province to go teach in British Columbia where her decision to wear a turban as part of her right to freedom of expression and freedom of religion is not questioned by the provincial government.

Just last week, McGill education students gathered in protest against Bill 21 outside the school where they were unanimous in their assertion that Bill 21 is contributing to the teacher shortage in Quebec.

We spoke with a representative from the World Sikh Organization about her thoughts on the new efforts from Quebec's Ministry of Education and Higher Learning to mitigate this teacher shortage and if she believes it will help.

In addition to speaking with Mandeep Kaur from the World Sikh Organization Canada (WSO), I also reached out to representatives from the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), and the Canadian Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) to better understand how these communities, who are known to express their religious freedoms through the donning of symbols or garments, are reacting to Quebec's renewed efforts to bring in individuals from outside the province to fill labour shortages.

Mandeep Kaur, from the WSO, was very frank with me about her feelings regarding Quebec's new invitation to teachers far and wide.

"People from different backgrounds are not going to feel comfortable coming to work here, not after Bill 21."

She also mentioned the important point that the shortage of teachers was an issue before Bill 21 became law.

"The fact that the CAQ would make it a law, which would make the issue much worse, shows the lack of interest in education."

"Instead of solving it, they're increasing the problem. And this campaign proves that they've made it worse."

Mandeep also spoke specifically about Amrit Kaur, who was raised in Quebec. 

"It's funny and a little ironic that they told someone from Quebec to go away [...] because of physical differences. And it's more than religious symbols, so people from different backgrounds are not going to feel comfortable coming here."

"Even if they encourage people from other provinces to come here, those people are still going to feel the negativity."

Speaking about Amrit Kaur, Mandeep asked, "If you don't welcome people who already call Quebec home, why would [people from other provinces] come?" 

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