Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

College Costs in Canada May Be on the Rise and Students Don't Hide Their Disapproval

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

College Costs in Canada May Be on the Rise and Students Don't Hide Their Disapproval

Article excerpt

When 6,000 students marched on Ottawa this month, they came armed and used their weapons.

They tossed raw eggs, orange peels, uncooked macaroni and obscenities at Human Resources Minister Lloyd Axworthy when he tried to reason with them.

His blue suit stained with egg, Axworthy thundered into a mike: "There's no point in being on the barricades. Come across the table and meet with me." His voice was drowned out by jeers.

The students were protesting increases in university tuition that Axworthy is considering. But the face-off also revealed how Canada's budget crisis is reshaping the philosophical underpinnings of North America's social democracy.

Students at Canadian universities - all of which are public - pay less for education than do their counterparts almost anywhere else in the developed world, according to the Human Resources Ministry.

Annual tuition at the University of Toronto, Canada's largest, is $1,648. Tuition at McGill University in Montreal is $1,234. And tax breaks subsidize up to 25 percent of tuition.

On average, Canadian university students pay 11 percent of the cost of their education.

By contrast, U.S. students pay nearly 20 percent at public universities and 53 percent at private ones, according to the National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education.

Canadians grow up with the notion that some essentials of life - including health care and education - should be equally available and affordable to everyone. In return for this benevolence, citizens tolerate high taxes.

This trade-off had worked well for Canada since World War II. But Canada's budget deficit and government debt have grown sharply in recent years and exceed those of other major industrialized nations except Italy.

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, starting with the budget he will propose in February, will have to implement sharp cuts in popular programs, his Cabinet ministers say. …

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