Boucherville student protest met with heavy police presence
BOUCHERVILLE - About 200 students gathered in Boucherville Sunday outside a Quebec Liberal Party meeting to protest tuition hikes announced in the provincial budget.
"It is a wrong decision; it is an ill-advised decision. Students live on $13,000, they do not have the money to go through with a new hike in tuition fees," said Louis-Philippe Savoie, president of the Quebec Federation of University Students at the protest, staged at a hotel south of Montreal where the Liberals held a day-long symposium.
"It's simply a wrong policy for Quebec and this is the message that we want to send out today to the Liberals."
The Charest government is planning to raise university tuition fees by $325 a year for five years, beginning next year.
The increases would bring tuition for Quebec students to $3,793 in 2016-17, up from the current $2,168.
Jean Charest said his government carefully considered the increases and believes the long-term plan is fair.
"What we've done is indexed them, relative to 1968, and when the six-year plan will have come to maturity, our tuition fees will still be 30 percent below the Canadian average," he said.
Students said the plan isn't enough for students struggling financially to support their education.
"We think that we're already doing our fair part. We want to participate in the economic development of Quebec, but the Quebec government must give us the chance to do it," said Léo Bureau-Blouin, president of the Quebec Federation of College Students.
Heavy police presence ensured students remained behind a large barrier, while inside the hotel, security was tight, preventing any disruption from protesters.
A student demonstration in Montreal Thursday ended as riot police used stun grenades to break up the 2,000-strong crowd.
Five people were arrested.
With files from the Canadian Press