children sitting on brown chairs inside the classroom
Photo by Arthur Krijgsman on

In the Laurentides, a mountainous region northwest of Montreal, a small community school was done in by a teacher shortage last year.

“We had a school last year that had nobody,” says Laurier Teachers Union president Stephan Ethier, who declined to identify the school by name. 

“Every single teacher in that school was [also teaching] emergency substitution on a regular basis… That took its toll on the staff.”

With no regular substitute teachers and no new teachers coming in, staff resigned or went on sick leave one by one. For the final weeks of the school year, students were left attending classes run by consultants and the board of education.

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Hadassah Alencar is a bilingual journalist based near Montreal. She recently completed the journalism program at Concordia University, where she worked as a teaching assistant and became editor-in-chief...