Quebec’s univ students protesting tuition hikes get failing grade

Student Protest March 13,2012. Click image. Courtesy CBC.

Updated March 13th, 2012. It is unbelievable that Quebec university students are not only continuing to protest, but they say they will strike until the Quebec Liberals relent and not raise their tuitions. Is that their idea of democracy — when they get their way? Windows were also broken in office buildings, although according to the CBC the protest ended peacefully. Clearly the notion that some maturing is needed comes to mind, as does the phrase “spoiled brats.” Harsh? Perhaps. But, all of us need to learn that government can’t do everything we want.


Original post starts here: Read this column by the Calgary Herald’s Licia Corbella.  It is quite an eye opener, even for someone like me who spent half my teaching career at the university level. What Corbella proves, beyond any shadow of a doubt, is that Quebec’s post-secondary tuition structure is subsidized by all the have-provinces — which are currently Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and BC, albeit primarily Alberta. Yet, Quebec students continue to protest over a $325.00 hike

Now, while it may be their democratic right to protest, are the Quebecers who are protesting so self-absorbed they have no idea that: (1) they already have one of the lowest tuition fee structures in Canada; and (2) it is tax revenue from other provinces, through the equalization program, that is making it possible for them to maintain such low rates?

Then, there is the unfair fact that Quebec charges out-of-province students a higher rate than Quebec residents. Check out this McGill Student Accounts page, for example, and it shows “Residency Status” — Quebecer, Non-Quebec Canadian & International. Odd, because as this York University link shows (scroll half way down the page to “Domestic Tuition Fees Category”), it is not apparently the same in reverse. To attend York, you need only be a Canadian citizen or a child of one.  

However, as Corbella writes, if an Albertan were to attend McGill University in September 2012, probably the most prestigious university in Canada, he or she would have to pay the out-of-province total tuition of $7417 a year compared to a Quebec resident who would only have to pay $3727.00 — just over half. 

Clearly, there is something wrong with this picture. Sure, all non-Quebecers have known that Quebec is treated differently. However, I had no idea Quebec universities had discriminatory tuition fees.  Meaning, perhaps that it is the university students studying in Quebec but considered “Non-Quebec” who should be out there protesting — for equal treatment for all Canadians. 

The crux of the matter is, therefore, that Quebec’s protesting university students get an “F” for their unrealistic and discriminatory demands.


Endnote:  If you do a Google search on the topic of equalization, you will find some who complain that Alberta does not give transfer payments to other provinces. While that is technically true, the result is the same. What happens is that, as Corbella explained happened in 2009, Alberta sent $35.990 billion gross taxes to the federal government. They received $19.997 back in transfer payments. So, no matter how you do the numbers, the rest of Canada got to keep $15.993 billion of Alberta tax dollars. And, of that amount, Quebec got $13.641 billion in equalization payments. Which means, that no matter how you spin it, Alberta makes it possible for Quebec university students to get a break on their tuitions that no other Canadians get.

10 thoughts on “Quebec’s univ students protesting tuition hikes get failing grade

  1. It’s very typical of people who are huge beneficiaries of government largesse to not acknowledge how this wealth is generated or where it comes from. It’s just too uncomfortable to contemplate. So instead, they go on the attack and demonize the hand that feeds them. This is done to deflect their attention away from their own shortcomings.
    It’s not too hard to see how this applies to a large segment of Quebec society. That’s why they loath Alberta and the oil sands.


  2. True Blamecrash, although I am not sure why they loathe Alberta. I live in Ontario and have all my life. But, my two sisters and brother live in Calgary and have for years — long enough to call it home that is for sure. Regardless, its not hard to imagine what our economy would be like without the Alberta energy sector in general.

    I’m just tired of the whining.


  3. The students at my son’s French CEGEP are on strike and we are not too happy about it.

    Meanwhile to add to the distinctness of la belle province, the Quebec government which has imposed a hiring freeze has made an exception for some agencies including the Language Police – the Office de la Langue Francaise will be hiring 26 new inspectors, supposedly in response to a large increase in complaints (though these are usually from the same small group of people).


  4. I grew up in Quebec Nicola (Ile Bigras in Laval). So, I am particularly disappointed in the entitlement “I want my own way — now — attitude.


  5. If they don’t think their education is worth paying for I’ll take their word for it – and as a taxpayer, I don’t want to pay for it either.


  6. Wrong, it’s not a $325 increase, tuition will actually increase by $325 every year for the next five years. Meaning tuition fees will increase by $1625. That’s about 75%.


  7. Jean — Such whining. Quebec tuitions will still be one of the lowest in Canada. Remember, Quebec gets $8 billion in equalization so that all provinces will have access to the same services. Meaning, tuition fees should be the same as well. Quebec’s have been artificially low for years. Plus, even with the increases, tuitions all across the country are still low when compared to their real costs. As the saying goes, been there and done that.


  8. Pingback: CUPE members funding Quebec student violence! « CRUX-OF-THE-MATTER ►

  9. I moved to Quebec in mid-December of 2011 from BC with my partner. I have recently been accepted to Concordia University in Montreal, and am waiting on confirmation from the application I sent to McGill. It was a nasty shock to realize that tuition rates for “non-residents” are roughly double what “residents” of Quebec pay. I feel like a second-class citizen in my own country. Very few other universities across the country make this “non-resident” distinction.

    There are 14 ways to become a Quebec resident ( ), which somehow, seem quite arbitrary. The only one pertaining to me, would be situation #6:

    “The Student has resided in Quebec for twelve consecutive months before the beginning of the semester and was not studying full-time at a Quebec educational institution during that 12-month period.” But wait a minute. If I arrived in December of 2011, and start full-time classes in September 2012, well that’s only 8 months….not enough to be considered a resident!

    And this in spite of the fact that due to my place of residency as of December 31, 2012 I was considered a Quebec resident for income tax purposes.

    The crux of my matter: I’m enough of a resident to pay income taxes to la belle province, but not enough of a resident to benefit from subsidized education. Ouch.


  10. DWCraig — Thanks for that info. I didn’t realize that you had to live in Quebec 12 months before you would qualify for Quebec tuition rates. As far as I know, that isn’t the case in any other province. Given what is going on right now (see my latest post) I am not sure why you would want to attend a Quebec university. Quebec employers, or any employers for that matter, are not going to be as impressed as they might have been before these latest protests.


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