If you’ve turned on your television, radio, or even ventured out of your home, you’ve heard about the student protests in Quebec. But what is really going on? Who, exactly, is protesting and why? Well, to give you some background, this all started on February 13, 2012 when social science students at Université Laval decided to go on a strike to protest the proposal by the Quebec Cabinet, headed by Premier Jean Charest, to raise university tuition from $2,168 to $3,793 between 2012 and 2017.
The original strike at Université Laval was followed quickly by protesters at Université du Québec à Montréal. From there, it caught on with students and supporters across Quebec. At its highest point (so far) on 22 March, 166,068 students were on boycott in Quebec with a total of 300,000 people, including supporters, at the March 22 rally.
To give you some idea of what they are really protesting about, let us go over the history behind tuition in Quebec and how it compares to the rest of Canada. To start with, university tuition fees in Quebec were frozen at $540 a year from 1968 to 1990. In 1994, tuition was increased to $1668 a year, and then frozen until 2007. In 2007 it started increasing by $100 a year until 2012, where it reached $2168. To sum up, tuition increased 300% between 1968 and 2012, not including other fees that are paid to universities (e.g. administration fees, student service fees, etc.).
Now, a 300% increase sounds like a lot until you realize that inflation during this same period was 557%, and, even with the proposed increases, Quebec will still have the lowest tuition fees in Canada. Quebec’s current average tuition is slightly greater than one third of the average tuition cost in the rest of Canada .
Despite the arrest of literally over a thousand protesters, the protests continue. There are many who support Premier Jean Charest’s proposal, however, citing the fact that without the proposed increase in tuition costs, additional taxes and fees to cover the educational needs will be placed on the shoulders of the citizens of Quebec.
This Guest post is by Christine Kane, a graduate of Communication and Journalism. She enjoys writing about a wide-variety of subjects including internet service for different blogs. She can be reached via email at: Christi.Kane00@gmail.com.