On Nov. 10th, over 35,000 (estimates go as high as 50,000) students took to the streets of Montreal to protest against tuition fee increases. The provincial government has decided to increase fees by 75 per cent over the next 5 years, adding over $1,500 to a student's annual bill.
As people become more and more concerned about levels of personal debt and job opportunities, students and their allies are calling on the government to focus on maintaining accessible education rather than increasing fees.
While the government argues that they will also be investing in the provincial financial aid program, students point out that $116 million of the $118 million increased promised will come about from fee increases. This has lead many to argue that a better solution would be to not raise fees at all. (For more on the argues for and against tuition fee increases, watch the series of short videos put out by the Institut de recherche et d'informations socio-économiques this fall)
Both participants in the rally and student union representatives agreed that while the march sent a clear message - it was the largest student action by far since the 2005 province-wide student strike - that alone it will not cause Quebec Premier Jean Charest to back down. While most people were understandably vague about what would come next, the crowd erupted in cheers when a representative from the Association for Solidarity Among Student Unions (ASSE) called for an unlimited general student strike this winter.