Canada Student Fee Protests Continue

Three-month strike that has at times paralysed Quebec persists despite government offers of compromise.

Three-month strike that has at times paralysed Quebec persists despite government offers of compromise.



Tens of thousands of students in the Canadian province of Quebec have been protesting against a government move to raise higher education costs by 50 per cent for three months.

The students have sustained class boycotts, demonstrations and occasional angry confrontations with police for months.

Jean Charest, Quebec's premier, offered on Friday to stretch out the planned tuition hike over seven years instead of five in a bid to appease the students.

The proposal would see students pay $255 extra per year instead of the $325 under his previous proposal, but the total would rise from $1,625 to $1,785.

"We are going to substantially increase the financing of our universities and we're going to support our students," Charest said, urging them to return to classes.

Beauchamp said: "I don't believe that 50 cents a day [the cost of the tuition increase] should compromise their chances of getting diplomas this spring."

Smashed storefronts

The government's plan to raise school fees to almost $4,000 as part of efforts to rein in a budget deficit provoked a massive backlash and a student walkout.

After talks with the government broke down this week, students took to the streets, resulting in clashes with police and smashed storefronts in Montreal.

Police broke up a large demonstration late on Wednesday and into early Thursday morning as students took to the streets of Montreal to hold protests.

The Montreal Gazette newspaper reported that police arrested at least 85 protesters during a large demonstration late on Wednesday.

Local media reported that police used batons, pepper spray and percussion bombs to control the crowd.

Tuition in Quebec had been frozen since the province's Quiet Revolution of the 1960s in a bid to boost access to post-secondary education, but it began to creep up in the 1990s.

The government has also proposed adding $39m in bursaries and linking student loan repayment to income after graduation.