For decades, the Quebec student movement has been among the most active in the country. At the same time, Quebec students have enjoyed the lowest tuition fees in the country. This is no coincidence – it is in large part due to students consistently demanding accessible post-secondary education.
But, in recent years, the Liberal government of Jean Charest has attempted to undercut the painstaking work of Quebec’s students. In 2007, the Liberals unfroze tuition levels that had been capped for thirteen years allowing them to rise by $100 a year for five years.
Now, those five years are up, and Charest is at it again. This time, tuition will jump by $325 a year for another five years. Average tuition for in-province undergraduates in Quebec is currently $2,168, the lowest in Canada. When Charest and the Liberals are done with this round of hikes, the average Quebec student will be paying over $3,793 a year.
Recognizing that these are hard times, provinces like Newfoundland and Saskatchewan have been acting to ease the burden on students by freezing tuition or promising grants. Quebec’s Liberals seem to be choosing exactly the opposite path for our province. As tuition creeps upward, it will become harder and harder for students to afford a post-secondary education, which should be a basic right, and which has become an almost indispensable prerequisite for prosperity.
Fortunately, students still have a voice. Quebec’s student movement has been impressive in recent years – drawing big crowds and national media attention for their resistance to Charest’s policies. On Thursday, November 10, thousands of students will march will take to the streets to show the Charest government that tuition hikes hurt students and need to stop. Join them by going to the Roddick Gates at 1:00 p.m. Join the movement that’s responsible for Canada’s most accessible universities, and is still fighting to keep them that way.