Volume 92, Issue 71

Wednesday, February 3, 1999


Huge med student protest hits Toronto

Faculty amendments in the mail

Grads to vote on pass

Forum wagon cruises into affiliates

Ridding evil sees change of the times

Death spurs awareness

Suurkask hopes to sweep council clean

Thefts decrease

Caught on campus

Huge med student protest hits Toronto

By Mark Brown
Gazette Staff

TORONTO – Hundreds of medical students from schools across the province descended on Queen's Park yesterday to deliver the message "access to education, access to health care."

At one point a column of an estimated 600 medical students stretched from the steps of the Ontario legislature to the top of University Avenue.

The demonstration was described by Shiva Jayaraman, president of Western's medical class of 2002 and an organizer of the protest, as a grassroots student movement in response to the continued lack of attention being given to understanding the impact of deregulation. "This was about students expressing their support for the public and their right to have access to quality education and health care."

He added in a rush to raise money, neither the government nor the universities have shown any regard for the impact deregulation is having on accessibility, especially to female students, rural students and students from middle or low income classes.

Kim Ferguson, a second-year medical student at the University of Toronto who comes from a rural background, said she would not be in medical school today if tuition had been at the same rate when she started as it is now.

Ferguson called the amount of interest students incur on their bank loans absolutely prohibitive. "I'm estimating for myself I'm going to leave with a $100,000 debt probably and it is probably going to take me five or six years to pay that off – and I have to support a family as well.

"It's going to be an elite profession and that's taking us back 100 years."

Sheilagh Maguiness, a Western medical student, agreed the impact of deregulation will risk undoing the years of progress made to ensure equal access to medical school, emphasizing the impact it will have on women. "Women will certainly find it more difficult to cope with the high costs of medical education."

"Mike Harris assesses it's the size of your wallet that matters, not how talented or motivated you are," said David Caplan, the critic for youth issues for the provincial Liberals. "It's clear that this government is not friendly to students, to families or to post secondary education."

Although the demonstration was attended by representatives from both the Liberal and the New Democratic parties, there were no government representatives present and none could be reached for comment.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999