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Toronto, ON—With the Quebec student strike now into its third month, Ugnayan ng Kabataang Pilipino Sa Canada/Filipino Canadian Youth Alliance—National (UKPC/FCYA) stand in solidarity with the student movement in Quebec and beyond by calling for an end to the ongoing assault against our access to education and to reject the tuition hikes and cuts against university education proposed by Quebec’s Liberal Party. For many youth across Canada today, alongside the over 200,000 strong who have mobilized in Quebec, the greatest disruption to our lives are not the wave of public protests and strikes that have sprung up throughout streets nationwide, but instead is the onslaught of the neoliberal agenda that denies us our entitlement to universally accessible public education and the basic right to determine our futures and to fully participate in Canadian society.
As Quebec universities have some of the lowest tuition fees in Canada, it is easy to brush off the strike as being unnecessarily drawn out. With Charest and his government proposing ongoing increases that hike up fees to almost 50% of the current rate, it is no surprise that students took to the streets in the hundreds of thousands in outright protest. While it is believed that such increases will otherwise be cushioned by government grants and loans, offloading exorbitant tuition costs to individual students is yet another desperate attempt by the government and the private interests they represent to transform public goods such as healthcare and employment into private services availed by those who can afford them. Even more desperate is the recent attempt to legislate students back to school, which sets a dangerous precedent against quelling resistance. The student movement’s refusal of Charest’s temporary resolutions to the hikes sends a clear message to all—that amidst the outright attacks against such basic rights and entitlements, no compromise outside genuine policy changes in education and reducing tuition fees altogether will ever suffice.
For Filipino Canadian youth, tuition hikes deepen our marginalization. Despite entering Canada with high rates of educational attainment, research has shown that the downward social mobility of the Filipino Canadian community is further reflected in the reduced educational attainment of the younger generation. With Filipino Canadian youth facing high secondary school drop-out rates across the country, the ongoing attacks on education further impacts the genuine development of our community’s younger generation. The poverty and non-participation inherited by Filipino Canadian youth, legislated through federal labour and immigration programs, necessitates that they take on jobs to alleviate their family’s financial situation, all while pursuing education. The majority are relegated to work in service sector jobs, earning poverty wages. The rise of education costs undermines our overall struggle for our genuine settlement and integration.
UKPC/FCYA will continue to stand with the Quebec student movement in refusing the tuition hikes alongside other neoliberal tactics that favour profit interests above genuine quality education. While hundreds of thousands gather to denounce the continuous attacks on education, we will continue to push for greater democratic participation to pave the path towards fostering public institutions—in education and beyond—that genuinely reflect the needs of the majority, particularly of racialized and working class students and peoples, towards our genuine development as a people and the further development of Canadian society.
Stop the hikes! Eliminate tuition fees and student debt now!
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