Since February 13, Canadian students in Montreal have been protesting the provincial government’s recent decision to hike tuition fees by $1,625 over a period of seven years, in an attempt to balance the budget. The rise in tuition fees is scheduled for September 2012.
An estimated 155,000 university and high school students are refusing to attend class in response to tuition increases. Hundreds have been arrested since the protests began.
Although the provincial government has attempted to negotiate with leaders of student groups by agreeing to increase tuition fees over a period of five years instead of seven, student leaders remain discontent.
The massive student protests have led Quebec’s provincial government to propose emergency legislation to close universities early and have students finish their spring semester in August.
The new law would also impose a range of fines. Individual protesters would be fined between $1000 and $5000 for each day of infraction. Organizers or spokespeople for student associations would be fined between $7000 and $35 000 a day, and associations as a whole could be fined between $25 000 and $125 000 a day. The fines would double for each repeat offense.
Parliament will discuss the legislation on May 18.