|We want an education Not debt|
You'd never know it from listening to the incessant and annoying braying that Quebec students remain the most pampered in North America, with the lowest tuition fees and among the lowest entry standards for access to post-secondary education.
The average annual Quebec university tuition fee is $2,168, while the average in the ROC(Quebec excluded) is $5,445. In the United States that fee is over $10,000.
In other words, Quebecers pay less than 40% of what other Canadians pay for a university education and about 20% of what Americans pay.
The students are mighty angry over the fact that the Quebec government plans to boost annual tuition fees by $325 per year for five years, raising the fees to $3,793 by 2017.
Even with all the increases, Quebec will remain the biggest educational bargain in North America. (Yes that includes Mexico!)
Incidentally, Quebec students graduate with the lowest level of student debt in Canada with the Quebec average at $13,000, compared with a Canadian average of $27,000.
According to Quebec students, it's still too much.
But Quebec students aren't any more guilty of greed and avarice than other Quebecers who have been conditioned to believe that there is no connection between taxes and the benefits doled out by the government, or to put it more simply, the idea that when the government gives a benefit to one, somebody else has to pay for it.
And so the lower tution fees are underwritten by taxi drivers in Montreal, government employees in Quebec City, construction and office workers in Sherbrooke, in other words, everyone else who works, pays taxes and has part of his or her wealth confiscated to pay for the shortfall between what students pay for their education and what it actually costs.
In addition to all this, Quebec students benefit from the fact that workers in Kelona, British Columbia, Calgary, Alberta and even Owen Sound, Ontario, also contribute to their reduced tuition fees, by way of equalization payments that the province receives from Ottawa.
When students whine about wanting to pay less for their education, they are in reality asking taxpayers across the country to contribute more of their hard-earned cash to subsidize them.
Because Quebec runs a deficit and carries a high debt load, students are also demanding that future generations pay for their education as well.
And while Quebec students have no problem hitting up taxpayers and future generations for a tuition subsidy, one group seems to be off limits.... their own parents.
Over 65% of parents of Quebec students, contribute absolutely nothing (other than taxes) to their child's education (this according to the student's union.)
When it comes to contributing to a Registered Education Savings Plan, Quebec families put aside about half as much money as compared to British Columbian families.
There was a time when students marched against war, for human rights and for the enviornment.
Today the only issue that can motivate students to demonstrate, is the issue of tuition fees.
It is in fact the only issue they are passionate about.
Look at the effort they made in preparing a document arguing for reduced tuition fees, it's a masterpiece of deceptive and selective statistics that would make Pierre Curzi proud. Read it here
The students are not unique, they are but an illustrative example of what Quebecers and their society have become.
ENTITLEMENTS BREED GREED.
Now I don't want to make this an English/French thing, Quebecers are united in sucking at the teat of the gouvernemama. (the mommy state.)
We are all guilty of stuffing our faces with government goodies when we can, but in our defence, if the government is giving out benefits and entitlements, who of us is noble enough to say 'no thank you.'
First let us establish that these handouts are not free.
Because entitlement programs are run by the government, they are expensive and cumbersome.
Let me cite but one example- publicly funded daycare.
If any one program illustrates the mommy state and it's related cost to society, it is the $7 a day subsidized daycare program.
When first introduced in 1997, the program cost $290 million. Thirteen years later, the program has mushroomed to over $2 billion dollars, a seven-fold increase.
While parents pay just $7 a day directly to the daycare centre for each child in attendence, taxpayers contribute, wait for it.....$38.
So consider, publicly funded daycare costs taxpayers about $200 dollars per child, per week. If parents have two children in daycare, well... you do the math.
This $200 weekly subsidy per child in daycare is UNIVERSAL. That's right, everyone is eligible, even those earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a year!
The only bugbear is that the government has restricted access because of the staggering cost of the program.
Snagging one of those rare places in daycare is a question of who you know or how much you are willing to pay under-the table, so a wealthy lawyer has more of a chance to get his or her child into a publicly funded daycare, than a barista working at Tim Hortons.
Does this program make any sense at all?......To Pierre Curzi and friends, it does..
It is the famous Quebec Model.
Subsidized Daycare - Extended Paid Parental leave - low tuition fees - subsidized prescription medicine - extended pregnancy leave- convoluted pay equity programs are all part of Quebec's unique model that has the government paying for generous programs that no other provincial or state government seems to be able to afford.
But has it made Quebec a better place to live?
While proponents of the Quebec model, like Pierre Curzi, rave about the merits of the mommy state, the facts tell another story.
Because Quebec shares the same federal government as the other provinces, it is not that difficult to compare Quebec society to that of provinces which provide less services and subsidies.
For every seventeen entrepreneurs in Alberta or British Columbia there are only seven in Quebec. Link
While the country averages 70 businesses per 100,000 population, Quebec has around 60.
Quebecers are also about 20% less productive than other Canadians, that is producing less wealth, probably because they work less hours and retire earlier.
Quebecers remain the highest taxed citizens in North America, yet earn much less than the average Canadian family
According to Statistics Canada, a two-parent/two children family in Quebec, earns on average about $68,000 a year, while the Canadian average is $93,000.
More than one third of Quebecers (aged 55-65) have put aside less than $99,000 for their retirement, counting on the government to support them in their old age with a meager pension that now pays around ten thousand dollars per person.
The "Rule of 20" states that for every $1 of retirement income, you will need $20 saved in your retirement portfolio. With less than 100k saved, these retirees will receive less than 5,000 a year in income aside from the government pension. Not too comforting.
Only 7% of Quebecers in this age bracket have saved over $500,000 towards their retirement.
This is the effect of the cradle to grave subsidies.
As citizens become accustomed to government largess they become lazier and poorer and like our students, badly addicted to their entitlements.
On top of all this, the Quebec entitlements have been partly paid for with debt and equalization payments from Ottawa.
When that runs out, Quebecers, used to living on the arm of the government will be in for a rude awakening...just like the Greeks.