MONTREAL - As the largest group representing striking students rejected the government's latest offer, QMI Agency learned that the organization is receiving money from outside Quebec.
At least two Ontario branches of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) voted in April to give the Quebec student association, ASSE, a total of $30,000.
ASSE is the main group in the larger student federation called CLASSE, which represents roughly half of the 170,000 students on strike in Quebec.
CLASSE announced Sunday morning on Twitter that it unanimously rejected Quebec Premier Jean Charest's latest tuition offer, which he made on Friday.
Nancy MacBain, staff representative for CUPE local 3906, which represents teaching employees at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., confirmed to QMI Agency on Sunday that the local recently voted to give $10,000.
Wayne Dealy, chair of the CUPE union representing education workers at the University of Toronto, told QMI Agency that his local gave $20,000.
He said the money was given as a gesture of solidarity and that his union has a broad commitment to students across the country.
"We think we have a moral obligation to help," he said.
The student movement is also getting financial and moral support from unions inside Quebec.
Caroline Valiquett, from a union representing Quebec professional health workers, told QMI Agency that it gave "a financial contribution" to the student movement. However, she said she didn't know the exact amount.
Several large Quebec unions plan to come together with the three main student federations for May Day festivities in Montreal on May 1. Tens of thousands are expected to be in the streets.
Meanwhile, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, spokesman for the CLASSE, told QMI Agency on Sunday that his federation's rejection of Charest's offer will "stimulate" the movement and encourage more protests.
A sixth consecutive night of protests on Sunday night saw about 2,000 people on the streets of Montreal.
Leaders of the two other large student federations told QMI Agency that they believe their member associations will also reject Charest's offer.
Charest said Friday that he would spread a roughly 75% tuition increase over seven years instead of five. He also announced more funding for bursaries and said students will have access to larger loans.
However, student leaders said the offer didn't significantly address their primary concern, which is that any increase in tuition creates more student debt and makes education less accessible.
Several protests took place in Montreal and other Quebec cities on Sunday. Students and their supporters marched by the thousands Saturday night in downtown Montreal and police said the march was non-violent.
Meanwhile, a Quebec Liberal Party caucus meeting scheduled for next week was moved from Montreal to a town about 150 km away to avoid large-scale protests.
However, the CLASSE said that its members will still make their presence felt at the meeting.
"Even if Charest moves his meeting to northern Quebec, the CLASSE will be there," the federation said.
The tuition conflict is not only playing out in the streets as students have been taking each other to court for weeks over the right to attend classes.
Striking students at a university in Gatineau, Que., across the river from Ottawa, are contemplating filing a class action lawsuit to prevent the school from penalizing them for boycotting classes or not completing exams.
Difficult decisions lie ahead for striking students and school administrations.
While the majority of Quebec students have opted to finish their semesters, roughly 170,000 are still refusing to attend classes.
Universities and colleges will have to decide in the coming days whether to extend semesters further - which is logistically difficult - or to cancel the winter semester altogether.
Negotiations between students and the government have stalled.
The student strike will enter its 77th day on Monday.