Montreal

Teacher makes video of crumbling ceiling for Quebec's education minister

A Montreal gym teacher got Education Minister François Blais's attention this week after making a 22-minute long video to show the extensive damage to his school gym's ceiling.

Louis Joseph Papineau High School gym teacher says he shouldn't have to make a video to get repairs done

Claude Whiting says he shouldn't have had to make a video to get the attention of the education minister and school board. (Radio-Canada)

In the 24 years that Claude Whiting has been teaching, he says he's never seen an official with Quebec's Education Ministry pay a visit to his school.

The fact that part of the school's ceiling was falling down made matters more pressing.

So the gym teacher at Louis Joseph Papineau High School in Montreal's St-Michel neighbourhood made a 22-minute video, addressed to Education Minister François Blais.

In it, Whiting detailed the poor condition of the school. 

The gym teacher said the school has done all it can to mitigate the risk of pieces of the ceiling falling down onto the people in the gym below. (Radio-Canada)
Whiting said the ceiling in the gym has looked like this for years. (Radio-Canada)

Whiting started in the gym, showing off the nice paint job on the walls — done by volunteers. Then he focused his lens on the patchwork ceiling

Chicken wire keeps pieces of plaster that break loose from the ceiling from falling on the kids in the gym.

However, he said, the ceiling's problems are more serious than a few rogue pieces of plaster. He said a large portion of concrete appears to be detached and has been threatening to fall for years.

Education minister responds

The video had the desired effect — the education minister said on Thursday at the National Assembly that he was concerned.

"What's worrying me is the safety of personnel and of students," Blais said. He said the school board – Quebec's largest, the Commission Scolaire de Montréal – had the money to make the right decision and repair the school.

The school board responded, saying it does not have the money, estimated at as much as $800,000, to repair the ceiling. Even so, it has since closed one of the gyms for two weeks to carry out short-term repairs. 

It said it would finish the more extensive repair job by 2017.

Whiting is pleased his video got to its intended destination, but he said he shouldn't have had to make a video to shame authorities into fixing the school.

"We shouldn't have to do that. I think our children have the right to not only quality education but... they also have the right to quality buildings, or at least safe [ones]," he said.

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