Quebec may assign Nunavik school staff to help in health care

Union worries about safety measures

Staff at the Kativik Ilisarniliriniq may be back to work in health facilities, rather than schools, following an April 10 Quebec government decree. (File photo)

By Jane George

Updated on April 14 at 11 a.m.

Nunavik’s teachers, who learned on March 24 that the region’s schools would remain closed for the rest of the academic year, may be back to work before then, but in health facilities, not schools.

Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann issued a ministerial decree on April 10 to allow for the assignment of education and higher education workers to health facilities, including shelters and long-term care centres, in certain regions.

This decree could affect 300 staff and teachers with the Association of Employees of Northern Quebec union.

The AENQ plans to hold a conference call on Tuesday morning to discuss the reassignment of Kativik Ilisarniliriniq’s education staff to the health care and social services sector.

“If the board chooses to reassign its staff, they have the obligation to consult with us,” said AENQ President Larry Imbeault in an email to Nunatsiaq News.

The Centrale des Syndicats du Québec, which represents thousands of education staff across Quebec, said on April 11 that “with respect to the ministerial order, the CSQ indicated that it is essential that the government ensure that all health and safety measures are taken to protect workers before assigning staff to another sector, which is far from clear at this time.”

The union’s concern is shared by a teacher who left Nunavik earlier this month who said in an email, “It’s crazy.”

“I don’t know how to do this kind of work safely!”

Before leaving Nunavik, having no students to teach, this teacher was among those who were told they had to “volunteer” to clean public buildings—an order that was later retracted.

On April 8, the KI sent a letter out to teachers and staff, reminding its unionized employees that they continue to be paid and “must remain available and can be reassigned at any moment to ensure that ‘the health and social services network has the necessary human resources.'”

The KI said in its operations update that these orders apply to the redeployment of staff to other essential services during the COVID-19 crisis.

“As such, KI employees who are in Nunavik can be assigned to essential services of the Nunavik Board of Health and Social Services,” the KI said.

Assignment by a decree would be made according to job title and “in inverse order of seniority,” so the least senior staff would be called up first.

The KI said teachers who are volunteering with another organization must let the KI know and let the organizations know that that they may be assigned other duties.

Requisitioned staff would be paid through KI while on loan and they would also continue to accumulate seniority, vacation days and other benefits while working in the health network.

Nunavik now has 10 confirmed COVID-19 cases, nine in the community of Puvirnituq.

Clarification: The headline was updated to make it clearer that the story is about the reassignment of staff.

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(17) Comments:

  1. Posted by Concerning on

    We’ll probably go down in history yet with having let the virus in with good intentions and stupidity all mixed in our unintelligible ideas. Oh yes, let the teachers back into Nunavik, so that we can get this virus on the go faster through our small population. Yes, get them teachers here to help the sick! And we all get sicker as time goes. Wow! Not surprising thou, this is Nunavik , in the province of Quebec, where anything can go wrong, will go wrong. Plus, teachers are made up of good people wanting to help, but they’re not stupid. Like what are they going to do to help? Bring us our beer, water , soup. Surely not providing essential health care.

  2. Posted by Concerned on

    Regional health board administrators thinks teachers should do labour work. Teachers do not sign the oath of medical practice like the doctors and nurses, stop comparing our teachers with other public service workers in medicine. Perhaps people who need to do community service hours through court could assist essential workers by cleaning health board unit houses.

  3. Posted by Andrew Retchless on

    Trust me, I would love to be back in Salluit helping out, but I could never live with myself if I was part of a group that brought the virus back into the town. Also, if we were to go back now, we would have to quarantine for 14 days. That would take us to around May 1st and the school year ends on May 29th. So the risk to bring us back for 1 month of support seems a little on the high side. There is a great deal to weigh in this decision.

    • Posted by Andrew Retchless on

      Very Proud of KI and the professional way they have handled this crisis.

      • Posted by The Old Trapper on

        Pro tip, add a “/s” at the end of your comment to indicate the sarcasm that you no doubt mean.
        Come to think of itthe Quebec Health Minister and KI should have probably used the /s on their comments as I can’t believe that anyone would have seriously thought that this was a good idea.

      • Posted by Handled what? on

        You’re proud of KI and the professional way they handled the crisis, and I’m not proud of them for the way they handle education for our Nunavik students without the crisis, so what do we do now?

      • Posted by Nurses and doctors for teachers on

        Ok, let’s make a deal with the teachers and hospital staff like doctors and nurses. This could really be our solution to an ongoing problem of poorly educated kids. So this would be the deal: get the teachers back into Nunavik to help with this crisis in health care. And when the crisis ever gets to be over, if ever, we’ll get the doctors and nurses to then teach our kids in school. It’ll be a good trade off, and who knows, maybe more of our kids will be inclined to be doctors and nurses. Let’s do that deal.

        • Posted by Concerned on

          Alright TWAT! Crisis in Nunavik? The only crisis in Nunavik for the past 16 years was suicide. If the teachers must step back into the region, then every other teacher in the province and county should go back to work to assist the health board such as Minnie Grey. Minnie Grey is very very angry with our teachers for leaving the school with pay and non of the nurses and doctors had to leave. She is forcing our teachers to get on the plane to assist with uh 10 cases, even though teachers did not go to medical school with an oath to put their life on the line. People who need to do community service hours through court should clean nurse and doctors housing and they should clean the group home.

          • Posted by THANK YOU ! on

            About time someone was allowed to say anything. So personal! So much control!

  4. Posted by Teacher in Nunavik on

    Bringing teachers back to Nunavik who have spent the last few weeks in the south would be a TERRIBLE idea. Nunavik is in lockdown and it should stay that way to protect everyone here. Only the Canadian Rangers should come to help if absolutely necessary.

  5. Posted by Poor journalism on

    Teachers who are south will not come back to Nunavik to work for health board. Teachers in Nunavik have been told to work to clean buildings. These teachers should be protected. They have no training, equipment or safety measures in place for their families.

  6. Posted by Time to get back to normal on

    For the communities that thankfully have zero cases, it’s time for employees to go back to work. There are no more passenger flights coming in so no newcomers since airline service was suspended ;and since it’s only the same ppl in town for the past three weeks, there’s no reason not to make ourselves useful.

    Covid-19 must be active starting @ 9:00 pm to 6:00am, that’s why we have to be home at curfew.

  7. Posted by Local teachers on

    Get the local teachers helping. Now we’re talking. A very useful duty finally. We don’t need teachers from the south coming to help. Since we have no more bingo going on, local teachers are waking up in the morning ready for duty. They miss going to work now that’s there’s no work. There problem solved.

  8. Posted by Jack on

    The real issue is to have mass testing to make the people feel safe and not be afraid and lift the curfew. As long as there is a curfew, the reality is coronavirus is a real threat.
    In regards with the suicide, we are loosing our youngest and most valuable children. That makes me want to scream in horror and I have. As a former foster child for over 10 years, and my both of my family come from above the Arctic Circle, and both indigenous, this hurts and bring back trauma. My father had T.B, was in the military, and committed suicide. I lost a father, my mother abandoned me, as a result my children have no grandparents.
    Someone has to protect the children because the statistics say if one person commits suicide, then people around that person accepts suicide as a real solution to problems. Looking at suicide is ugly, and feels uncomfortable, and hurts like hell. But if we do not look at it it will continue. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again. Our children are going insane and the adults are going insane. Let’s stop the insanity.
    With regards to education, it boils down to needing manpower ( librarian for example) , teacher education, and resources. For example, the school board should supply the basics ( paper, pencils, erasers, glue, scissors, etc). The teachers should buy the fun stuff like posters, maniputatives, and books. We have good teachers, but I have learned when in a middle of a pandemic, not one person checked on me. I have not got checked for the virus. I feel no one cares.
    The school board is paying us and want us to work, which is fair. Then sit down and come up with a plan of action and stick with that action. It is $3000 dollars to come here and $3000 dollars to go down south. If it was my money and I wanted that money to go far, I would have everyone come back after spring break and the whole town is on lockdown until testing is complete for the whole village for two weeks. Then teachers could clean their rooms, clean the library, or the resource room. Or whatever support the village needs. It has been around one week since the locals have not visit each other (however, they sneak) I know because I have been self distancing and I know I will not leave because I do not want to die. When I see groups walking the streets my heart sinks. I do not blame the locals. It is a way of life visiting, and the locals are very close. Also, when the weather is beautiful, who wants to stay inside? The truth is the south has the same issue, a family in Toronto just got a 800 dollar fine for roller blading outside.
    I knew about the coronavirus since January, it was all over social media, and anyone who said they did not see it coming has the “donald syndrome”, however, now we know this is our new reality. My question is what guidelines and act that is transparent that the workers can abide by? Our people have lived through the small pox and T.B, we will get through this.
    When our leaders change their minds and become wishy washy it causes uncertainty, distrust, and fear. With the pandemic, it becomes horror, worrisome, and it makes me feel like no one gives a poop. So please leaders, put your poop in a group, stand tall, and discuss how we can make Kativik a better place. Kativik has beautiful people with kind hearts, it has hardships too, but every community in the world has issues.
    I am sorry if I offended anyone, but my silence is keeping me up at night, I have friends who died from coronavirus, like most of us. I am grieving in a community that no mine, but I would be grieving alone down south too. I love my village, but I am scared.

  9. Posted by Highschool student on

    Whatever works, as long as the older folks aren’t put into these positions, it possibly could work. I love my school and i appreciate all teachers who put most effort into assisting students, it just worries me that they’ll become I’ll without proper training on this duty.

  10. Posted by Concern Sovereign on

    This is the actual model of the quebec government towards Inuit of Nunavik is a perfect example of all the positions that are filled by southerners not qualified to do the task but they do it anyway

  11. Posted by Sovereign citizen on

    The segregated streets of teachers empty houses, housing should be used to combat overcrowding in the villages to ease the possibility of super spreading due to large families living in single dwelling homes

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