Quebec student associations issue election wish list

Student leaders have released a 20-page election wish list to help fellow students make an informed decision when they cast their ballot on Sept. 4.

The college students association (FECQ) and the university students association (FEUQ), which together represent over 200,000 students in the province, have made about 30 demands for political parties to consider during the campaign.

Not only are the groups focusing on education costs, but their recommendations also include ideas about sustainable development and the economy.

"We are not the ones that will tell the students whether or not they should or shouldn't vote for this party, but of course, the Liberals and the coalition are very far from what we expect from their propositions on education and this is something that people will have to take into account," said Martine Desjardins, president of the FEUQ.

Desjardins said students would not hold any unplanned mass protests to make their demands known. Instead, the focus will be on getting more young people to vote.

A news release from the student associations said the groups will stage events similar to the popular "rock the vote" concerts in the United States. One such event is planned for Aug. 25 in Montreal.

Only a reported 36 per cent of young people aged 25 and under cast votes in the last election. Desjardins wants to see that number increase to about 60 per cent.

The FECQ and the FEUQ made the following recommendations in their electoral wish list:

Freeze tuition fees.

Allow students whose parents make less than $45,000 per year to be exempt from parental contributions when applying for student loans. Use the increase of special fees to create more bursaries

Increase student financial aid for people without children.

Tie the annual increases to student financial assistance programs to the Consumer Price Index.

Exempt living allowances from financial aid calculations.

Have the National Assembly periodically, on recommendation from the Education Minister, adopt a national action plan to develop university education networks.

Have the Auditor General's role extend to universities.

Implement an evaluations board to coordinate the development of networks and the quality of teaching, support, research and the efficiency of resources given to universities.

Implement a formal process to create a group that will develop new solutions for university financing and development of post-secondary institutions.

Recognize the particular situation of CEGEPs and universities in rural regions.

Launch a program to increase funding for research for post-secondary institutions in rural regions.

Improve the tax credit for students who wish to return to rural regions after studying.

Introduce a tax on luxuries.

Update the mining royalties regime in order to develop and maintain proper management of the province's natural resources.

Ask the federal government to make its $3.5-billion increase to post-secondary education and social programs a priority.

Modify labour laws to eliminate discrimination based on age.

Prioritize the development of energy efficient installations.

Introduce new programs for energy efficiency.

Invest in public transport systems that are efficient and accessible.

Introduce municipal organizations, teaching establishments, health and social services and large businesses into the law for sustainable development after a public consultation.

Be transparent when dealing with contracts and political party financing.

Hold an inquiry into the relationship between state administrators, political parties and party donors regarding the management of public funds.

Abolish law 12, the project for Bill 78.

Allow for students to vote in their hometown if an election takes place during their studies.

Authorize votes on post-secondary campuses.

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