Representatives from five of Montreal's anglophone CEGEPs and universities wrote a joint letter to Quebec's minister of higher education, Danielle McCann, demanding changes to their current working conditions.
The letter was signed by the presidents of teachers' unions at John Abbott College, Vanier College, Concordia University and McGill University as well as the vice president of the Dawson College Teachers' Union.
We call on the government to prioritize investment in public higher education to address the long-standing issues.
Open letter to Quebec's minister of higher education
The letter says Montreal's higher education teachers have faced physical, mental and financial strain as a result of the pandemic, as well as existing issues exacerbated by it.
"The strain [teachers] are currently facing is not sustainable," the letter says.
The letter asks for an "immediate injection of funds" from the Quebec government to do the following:
Reduce the teaching workload by reducing class sizes
Bridge existing and growing inequities between certain employment categories of teachers and professors
Provide supplemental support for teachers for online training and support and, for at-home IT and other expenses normally covered on campus
Support to remedy physical and mental health issues created by pandemic working conditions
The authors asked the government to make sure the funds are used for classroom teaching so teachers and students are the direct beneficiaries.
According to the letter, the provincial government allocates resources to teachers using the same formula as before the pandemic.
"Teachers are expected to teach the same number of students and the same number of course sections, and deliver the exact same competencies, even though teaching online is [...] significantly more labour intensive," the letter says.
The authors say most post-secondary teachers in Quebec have been forced to shift to online teaching due to COVID-19, often without help from their respective institutions — and in some cases, teachers have had to pay for at-home equipment and online teaching tools out-of-pocket.
The letter also says that inequities caused by "employment categories" of teachers and professors — for example, part-time versus full-time — continue to make the situation worse.
The current system, it says, limits access to resources depending on teachers' employment status.
"As the pandemic drags on, one year and counting, with no end-date in sight, it is critical that the government make these necessary investments immediately," the letter says.
"Failure to do so will risk putting the well-being of our teachers, and the future of our education system and our youth in peril."