User Tools (skip):
Principal Heather Munroe-Blum and the heads of three other research-intensive Quebec universities held a press conference Feb. 7 in the Duff Amphitheatre at McGill to demand that the Quebec government address the chronic underfunding they say is afflicting Quebec universities.
"We're pleading with the governments of the day to create a university system that's accessible and high quality," said Munroe-Blum.
Munroe-Blum and Rectors Bruno-Marie Béchard of Université de Sherbrooke, Michel Pigeon of Université Laval and Luc Vinet of Université de Montréal asserted that quality and accessibility of universities are essential to Quebec’s development. To that end, they unanimously proposed an end to the 13-year freeze on Quebec tuition, linked to an increase in student aid.
They proposed a reinvestment plan to catch up with the average of other Canadian universities and the creation of a non-recurrent emergency fund of about $500 million to repair and upgrade aging buildings.
While they applauded the Quebec government's recent investments in the university network of $60 million annually on a recurrent basis and $60 million non-recurrently over two years, the rectors explained that these amounts will serve only to bring the funding back up to where it was 20 years ago, when calculated on a per student basis.
The rectors also identified three new revenue sources for the government: re-establishment of federal transfers for post-secondary education, a review of the way equalization payments are calculated and the foreseeable freeing up of one percentage point of the sales tax by the federal government, tax room that could be filled by the Quebec government.
On the same day, thousands of university and college students organized rallies across the country, including at McGill, as part of a national day of action to demand a decrease in tuition fees and an increase in education funding from all levels of government.