Reports that Quebec’s teachers are the lowest paid in Canada are scarcely new. They go back more than 40 years. In the 1976 strike, teachers publicized that they were Canada’s lowest paid with the slogan “We want equity with Newfoundland” then Canada’s poorest province. The eventual settlement with Bourassa’s liberal government was a 30% pay hike, which brought Quebec teachers to a level comparable with most other provinces.

Following that agreement, there was an election in which the real villains emerged under the guise of the Parti Quebecois led by Rene Levesque. During their mandate they signed a new agreement, which allowed teachers to keep pace with their colleagues in other parts of the country. However, just years later, in 1981, the P.Q enacted the most draconian legislation that Quebec’s teachers have ever faced. Displaying it true colours, the government reneged on its agreement, rolled back salaries by 20% and unilaterally reduced pension benefits. In the subsequent four decades, teachers have never achieved the equity with other provinces that they so briefly enjoyed.

Given the damage thy wrought ,how any teacher could ever vote for the P.Q. or speak favorably about Levesque remains a head scratcher even today

Jim Wilson


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