Nunavik teachers, school support staff to receive more benefits
New collective agreements offering food and travel benefits to locally hired education staff
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.