Quebec students sue 25 universities and colleges

Suit says not enough done to allow access to classes

A class-action lawsuit is being organized by young Quebecers frustrated because they say they were hurt by the province’s student strikes.

The motion to sue 25 universities and junior colleges, as well as the Quebec government, was announced Thursday by students and their lawyers.

The plaintiffs say not enough was done to let them have access to their classrooms and complete their courses.

One says she will get her nursing diploma six months late, which will cost her financially.

“I incurred losses and I’m just asking for a reimbursement,” said the nursing student, Kim Laganiere. “This will delay my entry into the job market by six to 12 months.”

The group’s lawyer is not setting a figure on the amount requested, saying the financial impact varies from one person to the next.

The damage includes loss of salary, lost work experience, lost tuition fees and lost summer jobs, according to lawyer Michel Savonitto.

“These amounts aren’t necessarily very big in some cases but if you add them up it becomes astronomical… A court will evaluate the amount of the damages at the appropriate moment.”

The case may wind up determining whether the right to strike, as laid out in the Labour Code, applies to students. Savonitto said he will argue that there must be some distinction made between the rights of workers and those of students.

The Charest government’s Bill 78 was designed to force classrooms to be reopened and, in most cases, classes are indeed carrying on. But students in a minority of faculties are continuing to strike, and the law is being ignored in some cases.

The issue was expected to dominate the current provincial election, but has played only a minor role.

The Coalition party’s Francois Legault pushed it closer to the forefront during a radio interview Thursday, where he referred to some of the protesters as “thugs.”

The Canadian Press