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Paying more and getting less

by Archives November 20, 2007

“Eighty per cent of success is showing up.” Woody Allen probably wasn’t thinking about stopping bad public policy when he said these words, but he might as well have been.
If you have something to say, no one’s ever going to hear you if you stay at home. You have to get out and make your voice heard. This Thursday is your opportunity to be heard in a very big way.
November 22 is our chance to come together, despite whatever else might divide us, and stand united in calling on the Quebec government to reverse their destructive course and take back their role in properly funding post-secondary education.
Despite having the majority of Quebec voters go against both his party and platform this past March, Quebec Premier Jean Charest ploughed ahead with his planned tuition fee increases.
As a result Quebec residents saw their tuition fees go up by $100 this year, out-of-province students were forced to pay an extra $250 and international fees may yet go up by more than $1000. All of this despite the clear concerns that Quebec voters have in regard to Charest’s policies and vision for the future. He has not held a single public consultation on tuition fees, nor has he even invited debate in the National Assembly.
In other words, Premier Charest chose to put an end to Quebec’s long standing tuition fee freeze – which for years had been protecting students in Quebec from the skyrocketing tuition fees that have been preventing students in other provinces from accessing post-secondary education and saddling many of those who have made it in with unmanageable debt – without a mandate.
I’m sure that many of you are thinking, “What’s the big deal? $100 isn’t that big a deal. I can afford that.” Beyond the principle of protecting our public institutions and making sure that all those who are capable have the ability to access the education they deserve, there is the simple fact that eliminating the freeze is the beginning of a very slippery slope.
Once people get used to the idea of rising tuition fees, the government will have little motivation to ever take back their role in funding post-secondary education. From our neighbours in Ontario, to Australia across the world, governments have allowed tuition fees to increase, all the while cutting their own funding to the institutions. This has consistently left students paying more and getting less.
In Quebec, the truth is that it is not a question of available government finances; it’s simply a question of priorities. Earlier this year, the federal government transferred $700 million in new money to Quebec to provide additional support to the province’s social programs.
Instead, Charest promptly used the money to pay for a $950 million tax cut. After a move so audacious that it was opposed by 70 per cent of Quebecers, even Concordia’s administration admits that the Quebec government must be held accountable.
We can’t stand idly by as Premier Charest continues to ignore post-secondary education. Polling has shown that a solid majority of Quebecers (60 per cent) support the tuition fee freeze. They take pride in their tradition of accessible education and understand that it is essential to the future of this province.
The future teachers, nurses, entrepreneurs and doctors of this province are out there, but may never have the chance to realize their dreams if we don’t stop the tuition fee hikes now.
We must join together and demonstrate that students are united.
On Nov. 22, come out to the demonstration, join thousands of students from across the province, unite in calling on Jean Charest to STOP tuition fee increases, get involved, show up and be heard.

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