Vancouver protest inspired by outrage in Quebec over tuition fee hikes
Massive student protests against planned tuition hikes in Quebec have inspired organizers of an upcoming demonstration in Vancouver.
A march and rally is planned in downtown Vancouver on Sunday (April 1) to oppose high tuition fees and cuts to postsecondary funding in B.C.
“We’re really looking at this event as just kind of a forum for everybody who cares about public education to get together and to express that we do care and we are going to take a stand,” said Anja Novkovic, a protest organizer and Simon Fraser University student.
In Quebec, students are outraged by the government’s plan to increase provincial tuition rates by $1,625 a year—or 75 percent—over the next five years. They have been striking and staging protests in a fight against the fee hikes.
Meanwhile, students and teaching support staff organizing the Vancouver protest are upset about the B.C. government’s plan to cut funding to postsecondary institutions—a decrease of $41 million to $1.8 billion by 2015.
Novkovic also complained about the province’s demand that colleges and universities cut their own budgets by $70 million over the next three years.
Finance Minister Kevin Falcon maintains, by trimming administrative and travel costs, the institutions can find the savings without harming educational programs.
However, Novkovic said the cuts will lower the quality of education and lead to higher tuition fees for students already struggling to pay for their degrees.
“Students are not financially supported and once they do graduate they have crippling debt,” she told the Straight by phone.
“I really see this as a really important point in history and, especially in light of what’s going on in Montreal, I think that we can turn this into a nationwide defence of public education.”
The demonstration at the Vancouver Art Gallery starts at noon on Sunday, the same day further anti-tuition hike action is planned in Quebec.