Student Protests in Quebec

People are asking me why I’m not blogging about the student protests in Quebec, so here is my contribution to that discussion.

More than a 100,000 students marched across Montreal yesterday to protest tuition hikes.

The students are protesting the plans to raise their tuition by $325 per year (my links here are in French.) Right now, the cost of tuition in Quebec is the lowest in Canada. Students from the province pay about $3,000 per year to study at McGill University, one of the best universities in the world and my alma mater.

These students are smart enough to realize that this apparently small tuition hike is only the beginning. If they don’t fight this, very soon their tuition will reach the much higher education costs of other provinces.

Now I have to remind you that the people of Quebec pay a whole lot of taxes. I mean a shitload of taxes. They should be getting something in return, such as, for example, accessible higher education for their children. These insane amounts of money they pay in taxes should not be going to feed the fat cats of the humongous and constantly growing federal and provincial bureaucracy. This proposed tuition hike is an absolute disgrace and anybody who has seen a tax return of a Quebecois person will have to agree.

The only reason why my sister and I were able to get a great education in Montreal as new immigrants fresh off the airplane is that the tuition was very accessible. Now we are both very productive members of society. My sister has her own business in Quebec, and you know what? She pays a shitload of taxes and, since the business is growing, creates jobs for other residents of Quebec. Who, then, also pay a lot of taxes. Shouldn’t she, at the very least, have the certainty that her daughter will be able to afford to go to college without incurring a ruinous debt?

This is a crucial moment in the history of Quebec. The people of my beautiful province do not deserve to have the rights they’ve been working so hard to acquire stripped away from them by money-hungry bureaucrats. The suggestion by the government that there isn’t enough money to maintain the current tuition rates is ludicrous. There is money aplenty. And it should be up to the people of Quebec to decide whether they prefer to feed the bureaucrats or educate their own children.

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17 comments on “Student Protests in Quebec

  1. “These students are smart enough to realize that this apparently small tuition hike is only the beginning. If they don’t fight this, very soon their tuition will reach the much higher education costs of other provinces.”
    It took me a while to acknowledge this when I moved to BC. My friends were participating in the “Where’s the Funding (WTF, get it?)” campaign at my school, protesting the lack of funding in BC for upper education, especially the dearth of grants in favour of loans, and the high interest rates on loans.
    At first, I kind of scoffed, because what I pay in BC for my tuition is a cakewalk compared to what I paid in Montana, but at some point, a light went on in my head: I remembered how tuition was ballooning in Montana, but there was much less of an uproar about it because the students felt absolutely defeated. They accepted it as inevitable due to recession.
    So the BC students (and Quebec ones) are being more preemptive, and I support that wholeheartedly, because I don’t want the avalanche of rises and hikes to get rolling.

    • The erosion of rights always happens little by little. If we miss the first almost imperceptible steps in that direction, we will not even manage to become aware of what’s happening before we find ourselves in an untenable situation.

      In Canada, there is no recession, especially in Quebec. This is why I’m appalled at the cynicism of the provincial government that uses this as an excuse to deprive students of education. Shame on them!

      • I was thinking of going to McGill for my grad school (they have a scholar of Japanese history there who deals with Asian left-wing and feminist movements who could be my advisor) so I hope they succeed in bringing a stop to the onslaught, especially since I would be paying the more pricey out-of-province tuition if I went.

  2. It’s kind of sad how rising tuition is becoming a global problem. Seems to the like the welfare state as a whole is crumbling or at least is going through some sort transformation. Should be interesting to see where things will be ten years from now.

  3. At my university, tuition raises faster than inflation every year. The school published an article about it, and the only thing the school had to say was an unapologetic ‘well that’s the nature of Human resources, we need more and more money for employees every year,’
    What? Stop giving out raises and hiring at a higher rate than firing. I just don’t understand why that’s so impossible, but it is to these damn bloated administrations.

    • This is a very hypocritical response from your school. I know exactly what they pay to their junior faculty members (having been one myself) and I can assure everybody that the profs are not ruining the university with their high salaries. :-)

      • Oh yes! I was only talking about administrators, deans, those types of people.
        Oh yes! I’m sure you can attest, but the faculty I’ve encountered are motivated and do a great job , and the school has eliminated entire departments (Russian, dance, Swedish, film, and more on the way), so I know the faculty isn’t the source of rising prices.

  4. 325 per year is a bit misleading, I would think. After 5 years, we are talking about a 1625$ raise.

    We were between 200 000 and 250 000 in the streets, wich is amazing when you consider that we are 8 millions in Quebec and 2 millions in montreal. The person who commented on daycare has no idea what she is talking about.

    Things are about to jump to another level next week in Quebec, at least in Montreal.

    As an anarchist, it is my time to shine.

    • Shine, buddy, shine! Don’t let these anti-education folks get their way! They’ve had enough off the working people already. Seriously, how many more bureaucrats does Quebec need??

      • If we could only get rid of all those bureaucrats. We need more teachers and more classroms, but the money is wasted elsewhere. It is the same problem across society but the goverment is trying to say that we are against workers, wich is a huge lie. Both the students and the workers should fight back the goverment. It is really a few percentage of the people who really get their way against everybody else.

        I also wanted to apologize to you for the way I acted toward you before. I just have lot of anger inside of me and it sometimes spill over.

        I kind of screwed up recently and realized I should try to work on that.

  5. Has the fact that students of French nationality pay the same as Quebec residents come up in the discussion ? It has always seemed kind of unfair to me, though of course I can understand the motivation — encourage skilled immigration and preserve their French heritage, I believe. Still, shouldn’t they first raise the fees for these international students, who DON’T pay taxes in Quebec ?

    Though they might already have, so if it’s the case just disregard my comment.

      • I’m a student at l’UdeM so I can comment on international students and fees. In terms of French (i.e. from France) students, they pay an equalised fee, so my lab mate from France and I pay the same amount in tuition for our PhDs (I’m from Winnipeg). However, he does pay much higher mandatory insurance fees (dental, vision etc.). I’m not sure if he receives some back in taxes from France for that though. I believe, though I may be wrong, that students from countries other than France pay higher international fees.

        As to the equalisation fees between Québec and France, most students aren’t paying high taxes or any taxes at all so I don’t see it as a reason the government needs to increase tuition. In general I think we’re talking about a relatively small proportion of all students being shared amongst all French-language institutions in the province, and each student is still paying some amount of tuition to their specific institution. Overall the effect isn’t that great.

        In terms of the student movement as it stands, the English-language universities joined in the rolling strikes a bit after some of the French-language universities. As I understand it, typically the French-language CÉGEPS and universities tend to protest more often. This movement is interesting because faculties from all institutions have and are taking part. I wonder if the reason McGill and Concordia don’t usually strike is because of a higher proportion of students from outside of Québec who are happy to pay lower fees? That’s pure speculation however.

        I come from a province with a relatively low tuition nonetheless on the rise. I recognise this raise as an affront to accessibility to higher education. I would hope that our province, which is very much focused on their distinct nature, realises we have an opportunity to set an important precedent in our country and to show how much they value a college or university education and overall continued education. I doubt, however, that they will and I’m worried about it. Students are on a slippery slope at the moment.

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