|CEGEP and university students demonstrate against the increasing of tuition fees in Quebec City March 1, 2012. (REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger)
MONTREAL - Quebec universities are seeing red over the Parti Quebecois' plan to cut $124 million from post-secondary institutions.
Schools have been given until April to make the cuts as the province tries to eliminate a $1.6-billion deficit by next year.
The decision drew a harsh rebuke from Heather Monroe-Blum, principal of McGill University. In a letter to students and staff last week, she said Quebec is shooting itself in the foot by squeezing the institutions that produce future leaders who can grow the economy.
"The short-sighted cuts requested and announced this week threaten especially the missions of Quebec's research and graduate-student-intensive universities," she wrote. "They also threaten the very future of Quebec."
Quebec universities are already $500 million in the red and warn that students will feel the pinch unless money is pumped back into the system.
The board of directors at Laval University in Quebec City is holding crisis meetings to determine how to make up for the shortfall.
"They transferred a deficit in our backyard," school vice-rector Eric Bauce told QMI Agency, adding his school has been cutting costs for the past five years.
At the University of Sherbrooke, rector Luce Samoisette also held a series of meetings with deans, faculty, students and unions to discuss the looming cuts.
"It will be impossible to achieve this by the end of April," he said. "We'll stop hiring, student services will be affected. We can do things, but not $13 million."