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No Students

“No students!” the listing broker snarled bitterly and unapologetically. Bamboozled, I stammered out a few interrogatory pronouns and adverbs before I could regain my professional composure. I plead my case; “...but they are three responsible young women who have been renting next door from your client’s rental for over a year. They have been the ideal tenants, ask their landlord!”. “Even if they were to pay twice the rent asked, my client would not rent to students”, she responded dismissively.I looked down at the incomplete Promise to Lease – a disappointed client, a commission lost, but one heck of a revelation.In retrospect, as unpleasant as this experience may have been, it compelled me to begin my informal investigation into the rights of student tenants in the surrounding areas of McGill University. It has been over three years since this occurrence, and, after extracting the salient points of many casual interviews with students, I can now claim with confidence that students face profound injustices. In this article, I intend to educate the public on the common illegal and unfair practices of which I have become aware.The Finder’s FeeFor those of you who have never been a tenant in the McGill ghetto, you have probably never heard of a “Finder’s Fee” with regards to an apartment lease. Despite my knowledge of real estate law, I had never heard of such a fee either until three years ago. It seems that some landlords in the McGill ghetto have the gall to ask students to pay an arbitrary fee (i.e. $500) at the beginning of their lease. Sometimes they will cite reasons of high demand for the rental, and the fee is required to secure the rental for the prospective lessee. Other times, the “Finder’s Fee” is disguised, as students are forced to purchase… Read More

Time to liberalize post-secondary education in Canada

More students are enrolling in post-secondary education, as many realise that one’s high school diploma is not worth the paper it is printed on. The Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services (Drummond Report) projects that, on average, the enrolment rate will increase at 1.7% annually. This will inevitably cause tuition increases for students (Drummond: pp. 33). Students would only enrol in a program if they felt that the net benefit derived from the program was greater than the net cost of the program. Provided they were subject to market forces, post-secondary institutions (PSI), as suppliers of education, would likewise be incentivised to offer programs that would provide the greatest net benefit to students, at the lowest cost possible. However PSIs are not subject to the accountability of the invisible hand, rather they have taken the poisoned chalice of government money. This direct access to the treasury does two things: it creates a disincentive for savings to be made and incentivises vested interests that bids up input costs. Numbers from the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (Drummond Report: pp. 246) reveal that the single largest cost to universities is labour – which accounts for 72.2% of every full time student’s tuition fees. Most campus jobs are unionised and trade unions rationally desire to inflate wages. I must stress that trade unions are only one of the many vested interests that walk the corridors of a PSI. Unions ask for control over workplace procedures, employment practices, and pay-scales in the collective agreement, which impedes innovation and quality. While any rational corporation wants to keep labour peace, sometimes market demands of cost minimisation and innovation do not necessarily fulfill the wishes of trade unions. PSIs are not subject to these forces; and the direct incentive is to preserve the labour peace. If… Read More
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