Quebec school boards say they’re not ready for new surge of asylum seekers

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MONTREAL — Quebec schools are feeling the pressure as asylum-seeking families with young children continue to cross the U.S. border into the province.

A spokeswoman for one of Montreal’s largest school boards says it has had a record number of new students this past year, including some 700 who are asylum seekers.

Gina Guillemette of the Marguerite-Bourgeoys school board says schools have brought in mobile classrooms to meet the demand, but are in desperate need of more space and specialized teachers.

The president of a union representing teachers and school staff on Montreal’s south shore says the demand for welcome classes has doubled in the last two years.

Eric Gingras says the Quebec government has recently boosted its education spending but that it is not nearly enough to meet the rising demand.

Premier Philippe Couillard said earlier this week that some 2,500 children have been added to the school system since the surge of asylum seekers began — the equivalent of five elementary schools worth.

The Canadian Press

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