New Quebec budget includes tuition increases

Quebec Minister of Finance Raymond Bachard released the province’s budget on Thursday, which included university tuition increases of $325 per year per student over the next five years, starting in the 2012-13 academic year.

“Without a doubt, accessibility will be an issue with these hikes,” said Students’ Society Vice-President External Myriam Zaidi.  

The tuition increases will not only affect Quebec-resident tuition. Out-of-province and international students who are in regulated programs such as the Faculty of Arts will also pay more.

“Their fees are calculated with Quebec fees as a base, and then there is a percentage which is added,” Zaidi said. She added that it is a common misconception that the hikes will only affect Quebec students.

“It’s going to make McGill the most expensive university [in Canada],” she said.

According to Zaidi, whether or not McGill will be able to get rid of their deficit depends on how the new revenues are allocated.

“The University of Toronto always has a deficit and they have higher tuition than we do. There may be some correlation but there is no causation,” Zaidi said. “It depends how the university prioritizes the money. Clearly McGill doesn’t prioritize student life, but rather research and infrastructure.”

Zaidi also argued that the current financial aid system, which gives students between $500 and $700 a month, is also inaccessible. But she added that McGill’s tuition hikes will not follow the usual pattern, in which the government diminishes its aid when fees are increased.

In the final weeks of her tenure, Zaidi’s priorities will be to inform as many students as possible on the effects of the hikes, and to lay the groundwork for next year’s students to mobilize against them.

“The government has already listened to students—it’s not impossible,” she said. “In 2005 we did succeed through the student strike in making the government go back on what they had planned.”

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