University students in Quebec will see new tuition fee increases in 2012 as part of the province’s plan to return to a balanced budget. But how much tuition will rise is still an open question 8212; the province says it is planning to meet with “education partners to flesh out the details of the increase.” The announcement came as part of the provincial budget, released March 30.
Tuition has been rising by $50 a semester for Quebec students since 2007, but starting in 2012, once a previous agreement ends, this increase will rise.
The budget also includes a new health care fee, which would be paid by most adults in the province alongside income tax. The fee would start at $25 in 2010 but increase to $200 per year by 2012. The provincial sales tax will increase by one per cent on Jan. 1, 2012.
The budget has received support from the business community, but many civil society groups, including student lobbyists and unions have condemned it, saying it will hurt middle-class and poor Quebecers.
“While we have been calling for a consultation on education for a long time, we regret that the government has written part of the conclusion in advance and is already talking about an increase starting in September 2012,” said Jean GrÃ©goire, president of the FÃ©dÃ©ration Ã©tudiante universitaire du QuÃ©bec, the province’s largest student lobby group.
In the National Assembly on March 31, education minister Michelle Courchesne said students would be consulted about the tuition increase. Courchesne said that accessibility would continue to be a “central point” of the post-secondary education system. She added that the province’s financial aid system would be reviewed to deal with the tuition increase.
The provincial government has maintained that the increased costs associated with the budget are necessary for Quebec to get its deficit, and its debt, under control.
Quebec’s finance minister Raymond Bachand is projecting a $4.5 billion deficit for 2010&-2011, after a $4.3 billion deficit in 2009&-2010. But he told the National Assembly that the government hopes to return to a balanced budget by 2013&-2014. The province is currently facing a debt of over $150 billion.