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Quebec task-force recommends tuition fee hike

Urges government not to raise tuition without grants for low-income students

A provincial task-force struck to look at Quebec’s user fees has recommended higher tuition.The task-force found that Quebec collects $1.5 billion less in user fees than other provinces. The panel audited fees including tuition, hydro, and car insurance. Claude Montmarquett, who led the task-force, said that these fees should be hiked so that they are closer to the real cost of the services.While he said that increasing tuition would better show the real cost of education, he urged government to provide more bursaries and assistance programs for low-income students.Max Silverman, vice-president external of the Student Society of McGill University, criticized the recommendations. “The policies are unfair because they squeeze more money out of economically fragile sections of the population, such as young families and university students,” he said. “This is a further attack on the younger generations by the Baby Boomers. They set up institutions to support themselves, used massive loans to finance it, and now that we’re asking them to do their share, they want to tear the system down.”Quebec’s tuition levels are among the lowest in the country. Average tuition in Quebec reached just over $2,000 this year, while out-of-province students pay over $5,000 a year.But their relatively cheap tuition likely won’t stop Quebec students from kicking up a storm over the recommendations. They’ve been sparring with Premier Charest’s government since the fall over rising tuition. Last year, the government announced tuition hikes of $100 a year in each of the next five years.In February as many as 1,500 students marched in Quebec City to protest the end to the tuition freeze. In November some Quebec students’ unions staged a one-week strike culminating in demonstrations in Montreal. In 2005, Quebec students were on strike for several weeks, including as many as 200,000 students at one point.

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