The Fédération autonome de l'enseignement (FAE), Montreal's largest teachers' group, held a protest rally Saturday afternoon to oppose budget cuts in Quebec's public education sector.

Hundreds of teachers, parents and even some opposition members of the National Assembly marched through the streets of the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood.

The FAE has also been without a collective agreement since April 2015. 

The demonstration stopped in front of schools and welcome centres that either take in children with special needs or are located in underprivileged neighbourhoods.

Three of those schools are now closed because of mould.

"Why did we choose this neighbourhood? Because [Quebec Premier] Philippe Couillard's decisions affect everyone, but the vulnerable especially," said FAE president Sylvain Mallette.

Mallette said it was the "primary responsibility" of Quebec's Education Minister François Blais to be the "guardian" of the province's public schools. 

Blais was in Montreal's Ville-É​mard borough Friday to visit the Saint-Jean-de-Matha school, where he announced $500 million in funding for Quebec's schools.

Mallette said that's just a portion of what's required.

"Billions have to be re-invested in our public schools," he said.

Lack of support

Teachers who participated in the march said funding cuts are leaving them with little support, and that's forcing them to make some very difficult decisions when it comes to children with special needs and learning challenges.

"I have to spend more time with these kids, so I can't spend enough time with all the kids. I have to choose, and that's a big problem," said grade three teacher Jennifer Angiboust.

"I have half of my class that needs special treatments, but nobody's going to help me with them," said high school teacher Brigitte Veilleux.

"I get to deal with all of that at the same time that I handle 20 other kids. That's not okay."

With files from La Presse Canadienne