Student Protests in Montreal
I know this post isn’t necessarily travel related but it will provide some insight on what’s currently happening in Montreal.
In case our local Montreal news didn’t make it to your country (which I really hope it didn’t), our students have been protesting against tuition hikes for over 12 weeks now. The liberal government announced earlier this year that tuition would be increasing by $325 per year for the next 5 years. It’s about a 75% increase over the next 5 years.
Some Background Info
A Quebec student currently pays about $3,500 per year for a university education. The national average is double. The difference is due to tuition fees being frozen in Quebec since the 1990′s with the following principle in mind: making education accessible to everyone. Quebec students pay less than 20% of the cost of their education, where the difference is subsidized by the government (also known as tax payers).
When the protest first began, I was indifferent. Although education in Montreal in cheap, we are all aware of situations where money is mismanaged due to corruption or lack of proper supervision. I understood where the students were coming from: before increasing tuition fees, let’s fix our bad spending habits and see how much we can save. Got it. The general public has been generally accepting of the hike since the start mainly because it’s common sense that tuition fees should increase, even if it’s simply to keep up with inflation.
The problem is that students began to annoy the public by protesting on bridges and causing traffic jams, organizing protests that turned into mini riots in the city and most recently, the the entire metro system by detonating a few smoke bombs. This entire non-sense will cost the city millions of dollars in damage control, from fixing broken windows to paying our officers overtime. And for what? $325? But what really turns me off in this situation is that they are closed to other options, such as improving financial aid and introducing the hike over 7 years instead of 5. They are stuck on a tuition freeze and what they proposed as measures is unrealistic if you ask me. They suggested a two-year freeze in new investments in universities and increase sales tax to help finance tuition and avoid a tuition hike among other things. In which, NO, I refuse to pay more taxes! And YES, our universities need to be invested in so we can remain competitive and continue to attract international students, because they, also help to finance education for Quebec residents. It went from being a protest against the hike to a social revolution on education.
As a taxpayer, I wake up and go to work every morning to earn a living. And from every paycheck, I pay 40% worth of taxes that the government reinvest in our society, from healthcare to infrastructure to education. And I’m ok with this. But now we find ourselves in a situation where our fellow students are complaining about a hike that I find reasonable but they don’t think should pay more for education. They claim it won’t be as accessible if fees go up. I think I’m missing something here? Don’t we pay more today than we did yesterday for housing for example? That’s definitely a yes. But is anyone complaining about it? Education should be considered a self-investment. And honestly, if a student is not willing to invest in himself, why should I invest more in him?
All this to say that I think we are reaching a point where the province/government can no longer afford to pay for everything. Something’s gotta give. We want our healtcare to be free, our education to be free, etc. And knowing that with the hike, student tuition will still be lower than the rest of the country, I’m having a difficult time understanding where they are coming from. You give a kid a ball, they want a toy. That’s exactly how I feel about our students right now- completely spoiled.
This post is based on my personal views and are not related to any other article or group.