SSMU Executive Committee Reaction to the PQ University Funding Cuts

SSMU Executive Committee Reaction to the PQ University Funding Cuts

– January 10, 2013 –
On December 4, 2012, Quebec Minister of Higher Education, Research and Technology Pierre Duchesne announced that his government intends to cut a total of $124 million from university operating grants for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, representing about 5.2% of operating budgets across the board.

The SSMU Executive Committee would like to also express its opposition to the cuts, for a number of reasons. For one, we feel that the timing of the announcement was extremely inappropriate; not only is it in the middle of the fiscal year, but the fact that the government has unilaterally made this announcement during the lead up to the February Education summit is a clear example of acting in bad faith. Previously, the messages coming from the government in the work towards the Summit were that all options are on the table, and that the Summit will serve as an important time to bring a range of different actors together to discuss common issues of concern and move towards solutions together.This announcement casts a shadow over the entire process, and compromises the ability of the different participants to feel that their views will be heard and respected.

Secondly, we feel that this measure is completely inconsistent from the government’s initial cancellation of the tuition hike, following the student movement that helped lead to a Parti Quebecois victory over the previous Liberal government in the September 4, 2012 election. The SSMU, like many other student associations across the province, was against the tuition hike and continues to hold a position favouring a long-term elimination of tuition fees for all students, but acknowledges that funding for education must come from somewhere. One of the main messages from the student movement was that the government should fund education through measures of progressive taxation, rather than burden students with increasing costs. We do recognize that important questions regarding the current use of university funding have been raised but we believe that while this question requires robust examination; that the cut announced by the government is not a constructive way to carry forward the conversation.

Thirdly, we are concerned that to ask university administrations to make drastic financial decisions in a short time span could be potentially harmful to the entire university community, with potential to impact students, staff and faculty across the board in a variety of ways.

We call on the Quebec government to reverse its decision to force these cuts on universities at this time, and to work to find sustainable, long-term solutions to the funding of higher education in order to restore the faith that has been lost through this measure.

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