Volume 94, Issue 79

Tuesday, February 13, 2001


Candidates get in final say at Medway

Code closes student input

Billion dollar funding loss has PQ schools fuming

Environment critics say report could be more harm than good

Robber targets bathroom line-ups


Tommy Abercrombie

Billion dollar funding loss has PQ schools fuming

By Paul Kerr and Sherri Wood
Gazette Staff

According to student groups and university officials, the Québec government has broken a promise to the province's universities by suspending performance contracts.

"During last year's youth summit, the government promised to re-invest $1 billion in universities. The Québec provincial government broke this promise – breaking the confidence between the province and its population," said Christian Robitaille, president of the Student Federation of Québec.

Québec Education Minister, Francois Legault, has suspended performance contracts which included $1 billion in funding for the province's universities, Robitaille said. The money was to be used to attract and keep professors in Québec universities, increase the proportion of international students and increase the graduation rate, she said.

"We are deeply disappointed with the government's decision," said Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins, communications officer for McGill University. The original plan would have increased McGill's operating funds by $100 million by the end of the year 2003, he added.

Desjardins said McGill's administration is to meet with Legault later this week and is hopeful the decision will be overturned.

Nicholas Girard, press secretary for the Québec Ministry of Education, said although the Québec government approved the suspension, Legault did not support the move. He said Legault believes the contract suspensions are unfair and intends to fight for restoration.

At least one member of the Québec Liberal party, the province's official opposition, is calling for Legault's resignation in the wake of the funding suspension. "As I see it, he has no other choice but to resign. Legault has lost the confidence of the university community along with that of his cabinet," said Jacques Chagnon (Westmount–Saint-Louis), the Liberal education critic.

Jeremy Farrell, VP-communication and government affairs at the McGill Students' Society, said he was outraged by the cancellation of the contracts.

"The government is continually letting us down. This is cause for concern."

Farrell said the students at McGill are not taking the decision to cancel the funding lightly. "We'll lobby the government to show how serious we are. If it means planning a protest, we will do it. We're going to hold the government accountable."

Robitaille said she also believes student protests are inevitable. "There will be co-ordination of different coalitions for colleges and universities across Québec so that this injustice is heard," she said "This could be the drop that brings all the water out of the glass."

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