A group of around 70 Quebec students protested outside the Montreal office of Quebec Premier Jean Charest on Thursday, to denounce what they called the potential theft of $35 million in student assistance from Quebec students. While the protest was held at Charest’s office, it was directed more at Quebec’s Minister of Education, Michelle Courchesne.
The protesters were forced at times to huddle together and hug the sides of the building to avoid the bitterly cold wind. Still, the mood was festive, the crowd dancing to loud music and making noise with whistles and noisemakers. “We’re putting pressure on the government to do the right thing,” said Jean GrÃ©goire, president of the FÃ©dÃ©ration Ã©tudiante universitaire du QuÃ©bec. “That’s why we’re here today.” A representative from the Concordia Student Union also participated in the protest.
Until this year Quebec received around $80 million a year for student aid from the Millennium Scholarship Foundation, an independent body funded by the federal government. Under the new Canada Student Grants Program agreement, the federal government will be transferring $115 million dollars to Quebec next January to cover Quebec’s student aid program, but Courchesne has not yet announced whether all $115 million will be put into student aid.
GrÃ©goire said he was also concerned the money would be put towards student loans, rather than its intended use, for students grants. “She hasn’t said anything specific. That’s the problem. That’s why we’re watching where she’s going to put the money.”
-with files from Jacob Serebrin