Nunavik teachers, school support staff to receive more benefits

New collective agreements offering food and travel benefits to locally hired education staff

The president of Kativik Ilisarniliriniq says she hopes the new benefits negotiated between the school board and the unions that represent teachers and school support staff provide more equal working conditions for locally hired and southern employees. (File photo by Sarah Rogers)

By Jeff Pelletier

Updated on Tuesday, March 22, 2022 at 8:15 p.m.

New collective agreements between Nunavik’s school board and the unions that represent its teachers and support staff will include more benefits for locally hired employees, says Sarah Aloupa, the president of Kativik Ilisarniliriniq.

The agreement for teachers was announced last Thursday in a press release. The following day, the agreement for support staff, such as janitors, cooks, drivers and maintenance workers was announced. Neither agreement has been ratified by union members yet. Wages for Quebec’s education employees are determined by the province, as opposed to local collective agreements, according to Jade Bernier, Kativik Ilisarniliriniq’s communications coordinator.

Aloupa says that the new agreements are a step in the right direction of bridging the gap in working conditions and employment benefits for locally hired staff and workers who come from the south.

“We never have equal conditions for locally hired staff,” she said. “Our local employees, such as our Inuit teachers, did not have any benefits like the ones who are hired from outside of our region who are not Inuit.”

Among the benefits, the new agreements are offering a cashable food transportation allowance to cover the costs of groceries or shipping food. There’s also a transportation benefit to allow employees to go on outings on the land in Nunavik.

One of the other benefits is a housing allowance for locally-hired teachers, which Aloupa says will provide housing assistance to employees. The construction of more housing for education staff in the north, however, is a larger infrastructure need, she added.

“Although we will not start to build houses for our locally hired staff, we will be able to allocate some housing assistance,” she said.

Larry Imbeault, the president of the Association of Employees of Northern Quebec, was part of the agreement negotiations. He says he is more satisfied with this agreement than any previous contracts.

“One of our battles for so many rounds of negotiations was to bridge the gap between working conditions for locally hired employees and people hired from the south,” Imbeault said. “Their working conditions are now more alike, they’re not 100 per cent alike, but we bridged the gap at least.”

Imbeault says he expects the unions’ memberships to ratify the agreements.

In addition to providing benefits to locally hired teachers who are currently employed, Aloupa says she hopes the new benefits, which would be coming into effect by the next school, will attract more people from Nunavik to work in education in the region.

“I hope to see more Inuit people apply to our job postings after, because they usually go to other organizations who have more benefits and better working conditions,” she said. “We never offered this kind of working conditions in the past, so I hope this will have a positive impact.”

Following the agreements for teachers and support staff, negotiations are also being finalized for benefits for professional staff in school such as counsellors and social workers.

Correction: This article has been updated from a previous version to remove incorrect information about expenses the transportation benefit covers.

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(29) Comments:

  1. Posted by 867 on

    To be fair, the locally-hired staff and those “who are hired from outside of our region who are not Inuit” probably have significantly different credentials as well. What’s it called again when a doctor and a maid pretty much make the same and have the same living conditions?

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    • Posted by Elisapee on

      Equity

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    • Posted by The Answer on

      A recipe for disaster?

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  2. Posted by Hmm… on

    Finally! Benefits for Inuit! This is what I’ve been talking about. Now to have the orgs and corps follow suit!

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    • Posted by NUNAVIMIUK on

      Yep , let all have cake and eat it too

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  3. Posted by peter on

    Great job by the board, management and unions. Next up is to address the pension issue as our pension if we work long enough and qualify is based on our salary only even though we pay taxes on our housing, flights, and cargo. The province either needs to base the pension on the total taxable income or take the taxes off our housing, flights and cargo for all employees. Just saying.

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    • Posted by Dave on

      I think a more appropriate question is, what rate are teachers paying into their pensions at?

      To base the pension off the total taxable income means teachers will have to pay significantly higher rates, as would the employer.

      For example, some provincial pensions claw back dollars at 65 when the teacher can also draw CPP. Some plans don’t claw back dollars at 65. But teachers pay into these plans at different rates to allow this.

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  4. Posted by John K on

    This was ALMOST a great idea. But then I noticed it will only be extended to local hires. Which is to say it will eventually be based entirely on race.

    We never fail to turn a situation into an “us vs them” scenario.

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    • Posted by Some is okay on

      Yes, the racist nature of this decision is very distressing.

      Some racism is okay I guess…

      What is even more distressing is the casual acceptance of it.

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  5. Posted by concerned on

    Aloupa says” hoping to attract more inuit”. Yes, hopefully more educated ones. I often see KI employees with very little education hanging to important job(s) such as teacher, sewing teacher, workshop teacher Etc. Please, get educated first and not just jump into high paying job, which requires education which many don’t have.

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    • Posted by someone who is also concerned on

      The problem is not with people jumping into high paying jobs even though they are unqualified. Most people would take advantage of an opportunity like that if it became available. The real problem is that Nunavik’s dysfunctional society allows and encourages it to happen.

  6. Posted by Bob on

    Now the next and hopefully the education system in Nunavik, it is too weak compared to the rest of the province, if it was already was the same when the system launched, maybe the turn over of graduates would have been higher.

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  7. Posted by There’s no substitute for equity on

    I see everyday for years the issues faced here, and watched it closely. Equally paid for equal work, no matter who your are., except you have to be qualified to do the work. Teaching is very important job in the making of good educated citizens, you have to be educated to teach. So it comes down to equal pay for equal work that you are qualified to do. Let’s not even consider hiring anyone to do that important job of shaping the future, unless the teacher is an educated person, race need not play any role in this.

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  8. Posted by Kpikinuk on

    Nunavik has the worst schools in Canada it’s the Kativik shcool board who is failing all of Nunavik not teachers if you can’t see that your blind oh I know the have a innluvi what ever there name is I can’t even spell there new name inuktitut should not be the first language sorry to say to all the old people think that helps kids need new thinking of how we teach kids

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  9. Posted by What’s really needed on

    This is what needs to be done. Make a deal with Inuit. This is the deal: get a degree, in regards to teaching. When you get a degree to teach, you’ll be hired as any teacher is from outside the region, and all benefits, including housing, cargo , trips , all of that will apply to you. This should be the governments position, then it’s up to Inuit to accomplish the offer.

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  10. Posted by Peter on

    What most folks do not know is that all these benefits are taxable, so the more you use them, your income goes up and if you reside in KMHB housing, your rents are going to increase also. The solution is to get the provincial government to not tax benefits for outings, cargo, housing, retention and isolation premiums, for all employees of KI.

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    • Posted by It’s not about tax on

      Yes, Peter I agree that theses benefits are going to increase tax and rent, no doubt, but that’s another area of concern. This whole discussion is based on two other important factors. The first one being equality for Inuit of Nunavik. But the second factor is what’s so interesting. That’s the part about equal pay for equal work. That’s also the part where it’s vital to stress that equal work come only with equal qualifications. A university teachers degree is needed to teach in school. I rest my case as I say equality to all teachers who have gone to university to teach.

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  11. Posted by There’s no progress in this on

    There’s no progress in this agreement process. For years kI has allowed the local teachers to be hired without being educated, and now KI is trying to pay the uneducated even more, and not demand anything in return.

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  12. Posted by It’s controversial on

    How can an education institution which is supposed to be encouraging the population to become educated, turn around an encourage workers who are not educated, and should be educated for their job, to get higher pay and benefits? It don’t make sense. That’s why this equality of benefits haven’t got any backbone, it’s just lacking in all criteria. Please KI stick to your mandates.

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  13. Posted by Nunavik like NU on

    You can fail out of high school next year and teach it the following as a substitute or language specialist, the qualifications are don’t have a criminal record.

  14. Posted by Big set back for Nunavik on

    As far as I’m concerned, Nunavik education lives under a stain of oppression to a point of developing its own demise. What we need in Nunavik, is to be able to not pretend that everything is ok, but to keep the course strong by not accepting anything that’s not up to standards with the rest of the province. Not because there’s an oppressive culture made all these years, should we accept less, by enforcing less than adequate criteria for teachers qualifications. We must not deviate from the the mission of educating the population in the name of trying to fight the oppression with less than adequate outcomes. No matter how bad it is, we must not accept less. Having Inuit teach to our children with no teaching education keeps the cycle of uneducated teaching over and over, years and years of failure to Inuit. Bottom line, only have educated teachers teach in schools to develop educational society.

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    • Posted by Donna Roberts on

      I am shocked by the openly racist comments. I have lived and worked in Nunavik for many years and have always been aware of the knowledge and experience of the Inuit people. I have worked with many people who have come from the south and who wanted to “impose their lack of knowledge” on the people they were there to serve. Education is more than books. I have met many “educated” people who were stupid in other areas of their lives. When you come to Nunavik, you are a visitor. How you embrace and understand this region will determine whether you are an asset or a deficit. Try to be an asset.

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  15. Posted by Tell me why on

    Can anyone, KI included, can anyone tell me why kI hires teachers that have no teaching qualifications? What’s the goal in hiring people to teach with no qualifications? Does it have anything to do with a feeling of inferiority and make do with what’s available, not what’s really needed? I feel that KI is trying to forced progress which is impossible to force. It must be earned and evolve to have substance. Stop pretending, and help Nunavik grow healthier and educated. You can’t just make people into teaching professional by skipping the learning that it takes to become a teacher.

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  16. Posted by angry inuk on

    Anyone insisting this is “racism” towards non-inuit is being completely ridiculous.
    The agreements made between the union and school board are corrective measures. Meant to balance the playing field.
    Non-inuit coming in are given vacation or travel allowances to go and see their families, whereas Inuit who live locally aren’t given allowances for hunting or harvesting. Non-local hires are given housing, whereas local hires are given nothing.
    And to those worried about the “qualifications” of local hires, you are enforcing systemic barriers. There are NO colleges or universities in Nunavik. No opportunities for Inuit to become “qualified” in the eyes of western academia.
    Inuit had always been in charge of our childrens’ education, these agreements are a step in the right direction.

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    • Posted by Board of this and that on

      Angry Inuk. Teachers coming in from outside, don’t have to come in, there’s lots of other places to teach, with good benefits. Be thankful. Image yourself going out and away from your home, to teach in another area of Canada? Would you be able to do that? There’s no university in Nunavik you say. There’s none in many parts of canada also.. In rural areas of Canada, many many people go away to learn, and have to work part time to get by.. Can you go away to learn? There’s no reason why Inuit should have less opportunity and education. Nunavik doesn’t deserve to settle for less than adequate teachers because of no university in Nunavik.

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      • Posted by Angrier Inuk on

        People coming to teach in Nunavik or Nunavut are great, none of what was said is mean or wrong. Wanting to support Inuit teachers is a good thing, we need more of them. We need a strong education system designed for Inuit! In Inuktitut! The people coming to teach should know this too, they should want to help. If they don’t then I don’t mind being ungrateful.
        If you think qualifications matter so much, try and get KI to fund more Inuit for teacher’s education. Stop trying to tell Inuit they’re not good enough.

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  17. Posted by Image all the teachers gone on

    Nunavik is to be considered fortunate to have educated people who have gone to university to come into Nunavik to do professional work. Teachers are one such group of those professionals. Doctors , nurses, pharmacist, etc. Its a choice that’s made to come to Nunavik. There’s still a big lack in local people to fill those professional roles. What organizations like KI have been doing to promote local involvement is to grant local people the access to these professional roles bypassing the schooling needed to perform the roles. It’s an injustice to the ones being granted, because they’re not performing, and a bigger injustice to the students, because they’re not learning. It’s only those who have good support at home, that are able to get some head way to learn, accessing the knowledge of the qualified teachers. Only those students are going on to further their education, but the majority are not doing well. The uneducated teachers are thereby contributing via KI to the failure of education in Nunavik.

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  18. Posted by Hmm on

    Well I see Once again Inuit are being placated into , “at least we got that!’ What a load of crap. First of all one of the benefits is cargo which is something Inuit already had. Next, some type of housing allowance… not $200 rents or buildings so they can live in beautiful homes like non locals Instead of the typical KMHB , moldy houses. No…it will be some kind of an allowance and Inuit will get help to be able
    To go out on the land more! Please
    Please don’t tell me that we are still so colonized that this is considered a good thing! A start?! My god people wake the hell up! This is not a good start and if the school
    Board would a have kept a strong back bone they would have got more through their negotiations instead of settling for less! Oh yes make sure to improve working conditions for the other non white professionals in the schools such as social workers who already have crazy benefits! Please KI! You could have did a lot more for your people than these crumbs!!!

  19. Posted by Someone who knows on

    First of all I can’t believe these comments how racist so many are

    Second KMHB, KRG, and Makivik all have equal benefits for none locals and locals

    Third there are southerners who have absolutely no qualifications without education teacher if with full benefits only 190$ month rent while a local employee who has qualifications and bachelor or master degree in education without housing benefits paying over 1000$ in their rent. They have to pay at least 800$ for south trip or full fare at 3000$

    I can’t believe the sickening comment I read. Sick people out there only want to see inuit in poverty

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