The Canadian government has reached a deal with Quebec over federal funding for student aid.
The agreement, announced on Feb. 3 will see over $125 million transferred to the province immediately to reimburse Quebec for student aid programs it supported for 2008 &- 2009. The deal will also see another $115 million transferred next January to cover Ottawa’s share of student aid funding for 2009 &- 2010.
Federal funding for Quebec’s student aid program was put in jeopardy after Ottawa cancelled the Millennium Scholarship Foundation this summer. Because Quebec does not participate in the Canada Student Loans Program, students in the province were not eligible for the new Canada Student Grants Program, which replaced the Millennium Scholarships.
Quebec had an agreement with the Millennium Scholarship Foundation, the federally funded independent body that administered the grants, which saw Quebec receive on average $72 million per year.
But by the time the program ended on Jan. 5, a similar deal had not yet been reached. While the Quebec government was prepared to pay the difference, student lobbyists from the Association pour une solidaritÃ© syndicale Ã©tudiante, FÃ©dÃ©ration Ã©tudiante universitaire du QuÃ©bec and the FÃ©dÃ©ration Ã©tudiante collÃ©giale du QuÃ©bec, Quebec’s three largest student lobby groups, said they were concerned this money would not last.
While the new deal was welcomed by student groups, some student leaders, including CSU president Amine Dabchy, have expressed concerns that some of the new federal funds will not be put into student aid and will instead be put into the provinces general revenues. In 2007, Quebec received over $900 million in extra equalization and transfer payments, but used the money to pay for tax cuts and lifted freeze on tuition fees.
Students from several Montreal area CEGEPs plan to protest outside the Ministry of Education’s Quebec office on Feb. 9 to call for all the money to be put toward student aid.