A 75 per cent increase is pretty substantial, whether it’s over five years, seven years or what have you–it’s a lot higher than the rate of inflation, that’s for sure. In fact, that magic number has a whole lotta college and university students in Quebec throwing away most of their second semester to go on strike. Many have been marching since the middle of February, but the only concession they’ve received from the provincial government is to extend that famous $1,625 increase over seven years instead of five. Wait, $1,625 over seven years–doesn’t that equate to 116 bucks per semester (not including summer school) or, as Line Beauchamp likes to say, 50 cents a day?
To be fair, that number would be indexed to inflation over the last two years, making it more like 125 bucks a semester, but hey, who stays in school for seven years anyways? Even so, this hardly seems like something that would break the bank, which brings us back to that 75 per cent. Post-secondary students in Quebec currently pay a paltry $2,168 dollars in annual tuition fees. I’ve been outta school for a few years now, but I’m pretty sure I paid more than than per semester in Ontario–during which time tuition was frozen next door at $1,668, from ’94 to 2007. The year that Quebec finally unfroze its tuition fees (they’ve been increasing by 100 bucks a year since), the rest of the country paid, on average, $4,558 per year as per Stats Canada–and that number’s gone up by over 800 dollars in that time. Basically, the result of this latest proposal would bring Quebec in line with Ontario’s rates–circa 2001. Did I mention that this would be 2019 by the time the full increase took effect? I can only imagine what kids over here will be paying by then. It could very well be into five figures. (Thanks, Dalton!)
Of course, not all other provinces have it as bad as Ontario, home of the highest tuition fees in the country. But Alberta and Saskatchewan have raised their fees by an average of 500-600 dollars since ’07-’08, while P.E.I.’s have gone up by over 800 dollars in that time frame. That said, in any province but Ontario, a $254 annual increase would be considered steep–but a $3,947 overall tuition fee would still sound pretty good today, never mind seven years from now.
Not that the numbers from across the country mean anything to the striking students. La CLASSE, one of the major student unions, openly states that it defends the right to “free, accessible, public, non-discriminatory public education“–in other words, no tuition fees at all. They feel Quebec should take its cues from small European countries like Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic rather than the rest of the country–or even the continent–that it’s part of, where only Florida, Wyoming and Newfoundland currently pay less tuition fees than they will post-hike. Guess it’s that whole sovereigntist thing.
On that note, it’s worth pointing out that had I wanted to take advantage of Quebec’s lower fees, as a French-speaking person from outside the province, I wouldn’t have been able to. That sweetheart deal only applies to Quebec residents–making it the only province with two weights, two measures when it comes to fees for Canadian students. Non-Quebec residents are scheduled to pay $6,183.00 a year for a full courseload at McGill starting this fall, nearly $3,700 more than their Quebecois classmates. So there you have it, the proposed provincial tuition fees in 2019 barely cover the gap between what Quebecois and non-Quebecois students pay in the province today. And those students from elsewhere will also feel the hit, as the amounts they pay are based on the Quebec fee, with an out-of-province supplement added on, according to The McGill Daily. The kids paying upwards of 6K a year who’ll be paying an additional $1,500 by the end of their (undergrad) studies are the ones I truly feel sorry for. As for the rest of the province, it’s time to baisser tes culottes. This’ll only hurt a bit, relatively speaking.