Updated March 13th, 2012. It is unbelievable that Quebec university students are not only continuing to protest, but they say they will strike until the Quebec Liberals relent and not raise their tuitions. Is that their idea of democracy – when they get their way? Windows were also broken in office buildings, although according to the CBC the protest ended peacefully. Clearly the notion that some maturing is needed comes to mind, as does the phrase “spoiled brats.” Harsh? Perhaps. But, all of us need to learn that government can’t do everything we want.
Original post starts here: Read this column by the Calgary Herald’s Licia Corbella. It is quite an eye opener, even for someone like me who spent half my teaching career at the university level. What Corbella proves, beyond any shadow of a doubt, is that Quebec’s post-secondary tuition structure is subsidized by all the have-provinces — which are currently Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and BC, albeit primarily Alberta. Yet, Quebec students continue to protest over a $325.00 hike.
Now, while it may be their democratic right to protest, are the Quebecers who are protesting so self-absorbed they have no idea that: (1) they already have one of the lowest tuition fee structures in Canada; and (2) it is tax revenue from other provinces, through the equalization program, that is making it possible for them to maintain such low rates?
Then, there is the unfair fact that Quebec charges out-of-province students a higher rate than Quebec residents. Check out this McGill Student Accounts page, for example, and it shows “Residency Status” — Quebecer, Non-Quebec Canadian & International. Odd, because as this York University link shows (scroll half way down the page to “Domestic Tuition Fees Category”), it is not apparently the same in reverse. To attend York, you need only be a Canadian citizen or a child of one.
However, as Corbella writes, if an Albertan were to attend McGill University in September 2012, probably the most prestigious university in Canada, he or she would have to pay the out-of-province total tuition of $7417 a year compared to a Quebec resident who would only have to pay $3727.00 — just over half.
Clearly, there is something wrong with this picture. Sure, all non-Quebecers have known that Quebec is treated differently. However, I had no idea Quebec universities had discriminatory tuition fees. Meaning, perhaps that it is the university students studying in Quebec but considered “Non-Quebec” who should be out there protesting — for equal treatment for all Canadians.
The crux of the matter is, therefore, that Quebec’s protesting university students get an “F” for their unrealistic and discriminatory demands.
Endnote: If you do a Google search on the topic of equalization, you will find some who complain that Alberta does not give transfer payments to other provinces. While that is technically true, the result is the same. What happens is that, as Corbella explained happened in 2009, Alberta sent $35.990 billion gross taxes to the federal government. They received $19.997 back in transfer payments. So, no matter how you do the numbers, the rest of Canada got to keep $15.993 billion of Alberta tax dollars. And, of that amount, Quebec got $13.641 billion in equalization payments. Which means, that no matter how you spin it, Alberta makes it possible for Quebec university students to get a break on their tuitions that no other Canadians get.