It’s that time of year again. Students everywhere are headed back to school, faced with endless exams and inevitable all-nighters. The need for a study space is key, but that's sometimes not available, or practical in campus libraries (think, exams and smelly people). Luckily, students here have the opportunity to be productive elsewhere, thanks to Montreal’s extensive collection of coffee spots. A good café (as an alternative to the library) should provide patrons with free WIFI, a comfortable environment, and a good cup of coffee.
Here, we provide a list of the top 5 coffee spots (that aren’t Starbucks) for students in Montreal who need to get down to business.
Chai Thé Lounge is the newest addition to the McGill ghetto, and you can tell – from the comfortable new benches to the overall cleanliness of the place. It’s a great place for McGill students, because chances are you live around the corner. But there’s also free WIFI, a lot of table space, and plenty of power outlets. Try their tea and their macaroons while you’re there and it’ll be a good study day.
2. Kitsuné Espresso Bar (19 Prince Arthur St.)
If you’re looking for a really solid cup of coffee or espresso, Kisuné is the place to go. And with some of the largest and spacious tables I’ve ever seen in a café, it makes this coffee spot one of the best study locations, complete with free WIFI and a place to park your bike.
3. La Petite Cuillière (3603 St. Denis)
La Petite Cullière is indeed petite, but its home-y/relaxed vibe makes it worth waiting for to find a spot (especially the one by the window with all the fun pillows). It’s a quirky place, complete with Mason jar glasses and a location in the Plateau, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t provide free WIFI and practical tables to study on.
4. Cafe Bistro El Mundo (3500 Ave du Parc)
A favourite amongst McGill students, El Mundo is packed with people on every day of the week. It’s a cozy place, which means you may not always find a table, but that just provides more motivation to get up early. It also has a great selection of salads and sandwiches to help pass the time by (and you might be there awhile – it’s open late).
5. Kafein (1429 Rue Bishop)
Although this place turns into a bar/lounge at night, Kafein provides a great space for students to study in the day. Across the street from Concordia, this café is the perfect spot to stumble on over to between classes. Finish up your study day by sticking around for happy hour and enjoy a drink or two.
Five months later, McGill has issued one statement and launched three investigations. But the accusers — who asked to be called "the girls" to protect their safety — told MTL Blog they've been left in the dark.
They said they received no updates on how investigations are progressing or whether the accused is facing any penalties.
Meanwhile, they said the student has continued attending classes.
McGill has been following its protocol for investigations into allegations of sexual assault — but this protocol has left the girls and other students in limbo for the majority of the school year.
"We can't feel safe on campus with him lurking around, viewing us as prey," one of the girls, Eva*, told MTL Blog.
Most of the girls were minors at the time of the alleged assaults, as was the accused student, whose name has not been released by the university or the police.
Eva told MTL Blog the accused student frequented bars near McGill residences where he would "talk to, touch and kiss [girls] who were drunk," and that he would persistently "beg" female students to "hook up."
In written testimonies shared with MTL Blog, each of the girls outlined how the accused student sexually assaulted them both off and on campus.
One of them said the accused sexually assaulted her when she was "completely blacked out" from alcohol.
What was McGill's reaction?
McGill responded to the December petition within three days. A statement written by Deputy Provost of Student Life and Learning Fabrice Labeau assured the student body and the general public that McGill was "looking into the matter."
"Our foremost concern right now is student wellbeing," Labeau wrote. He expressed what he called a "steadfast commitment to a campus community where everyone feels safe."
Though none of the girls had formally reported their assaults to McGill at the time — something Eva said was because "the resources weren't publicized and the social consequences for reporting were immense" — that changed by the end of December.
Eva said one of the girls filed a police report, and three of the girls filed complaints with McGill, initiating three internal investigations. However, neither the police nor the university was able to confirm details of these investigations to MTL Blog.
A month later, the university had not issued any new statements nor updated the girls involved, Eva said.
MTL Blog asked Cynthia Lee, McGill's associate director of media relations, to confirm the status of the investigations in February. She said that according to McGill's Policy Against Sexual Violence, "when a formal report is made, the University must immediately appoint an external Special Investigator to conduct a full and impartial investigation."
She also said "the entirety of this process is covered by confidentiality regulations," and that she could not disclose any further information.
The silence surrounding the allegations began to disturb other McGill students who said they had to interact with the accused student in their classes.
Anna Ni told MTL Blog she attended an online psychology course with the accused student, where she said he would participate in group discussions while he was part of the ongoing investigations.
She said McGill's ambiguous response to the allegations made her feel "small and voiceless."
"I am grateful for the fact that McGill has resources that can help students struggling with this situation, but McGill's vagueness in their [statement] gave me the impression that they were not actively taking care of this situation," she said.
In a screenshot Ni took of her classmates discussing the accused student's presence in the course via group chat — which she shared with MTL Blog — one student asked, "I thought the school took care of this? Why is he still allowed to study?"
Amrita Kaur, a first-year student unaffiliated with the girls, told MTL Blog that McGill's communications to the student body following the incident — mainly emails consisting of links to support resources — felt "empty."
She emailed the Office of the Dean of Students to express her "extreme disappointment" in the school for allowing the accused student to attend classes "as if nothing ever happened."
"Now I wonder if it's true [...] all great institutions sweep sexual assault under the rug," she wrote in her email to McGill, which she forwarded to MTL Blog.
She said she did not receive a response from the university.
Lee told MTL Blog that at McGill, until an investigation is complete, "disciplinary actions cannot be taken pre-emptively […] however, interim measures are put in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those directly affected."
Possible accommodations include late withdrawal from a course or a change in residence — but they only apply to survivors.
MTL Blog found that according to the Policy against Sexual Violence, the university can take pre-emptive disciplinary action if "there may be a risk of harm to any Member of the University Community."
MTL Blog asked Lee if the fact that the accused student was still attending classes meant that the university did not see him as posing a threat to university community members.
She did not directly respond to the question.
What is the 'Code of Silence'?
There is a legal reason why the university claims it is limited regarding what it can divulge about sexual assault investigations.
Brooklyn Frizzle, vice-president of the Students' Society of McGill University (SSMU), told MTL Blog they believe universities use this law as a "scapegoat" to justify a lack of transparency in cases of sexual violence.
Frizzle said this wasn't the first time students' questions about a case involving sexual misconduct were left unanswered.
"I've lost track of how many emails to the Dean of Students or to the Provost that I've seen, to which there was no response because the university can't legally give a response," they said.
Last year, representatives from l'Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) started a petition to amend the Act so post-secondary institutions could "inform victims of the disciplinary measures taken against their aggressors."
"Evidence shows that [the Act] contributes to victims' lack of trust in institutional channels, since it keeps the person most affected by the complaint from accessing crucial information for their healing process and to their sense of safety at school and/or work," the petition read.
McGill's Policy states that all investigations should be conducted within 90 days. According to this timeline, the girls' investigations should have ended by April.
But even when the investigations are complete, the Code of Silence means the girls cannot be informed of the penalties that may or may not be imposed on the accused student.
As Lee told MTL Blog, "details or updates concerning particular cases cannot be provided to anyone outside those immediately involved."
This means other students won't know if they can expect to see the accused student in their classes again next semester.
Could the 'Code of Silence' change?
While the public may never know if and how the accused student has been disciplined, McGill's Annual Report on the Policy against Sexual Violence gives some indication of the number of investigations the school has conducted.
McGill provided MTL Blog with a copy of the Annual Report, which specifies that, in 2020, eight of nine completed investigations yielding "a finding of sexual violence" resulted in disciplinary action.
These actions included "admonishment and conduct probation, formal reprimand [and/or] cease and desist communication and contact orders," but it's unclear which actions applied to which investigations.
Out of 18 incidents of sexual violence reported to the university in 2020, 83% were submitted by women. Just one report was submitted by a man, while two were submitted anonymously.
In May, a National Assembly committee presented its findings on possibly amending Bill 64. However, whether the amendments pass remains to be seen. For now, those involved can only know that the investigations are finished.
A 2016 Université Laval study found that 36.9% of Quebec students, faculty and staff experienced some form of sexual violence by another person affiliated with their university.
"It feels constant, like there's [always] some big allegation of sexual violence that we're talking about that we're trying to pressure the university to respond to," Frizzle said.
"It's just the name [that] changes every semester."
*The source's name has been changed at their request to protect their safety.
With files from Ilana Belfer, MTL Blog.
If you require resources or assistance surrounding sexual assault in Quebec, the CAVAC helpline is available 24/7. Those who may need support can call 1-866-532-2822. Other crisis lines and 24/7 options can be found at The Lifeline Canada.
Requirements: Your job as an advisor to the auditor general at the National Assembly will require you to "contribute, through audits and other work, to better management of the various resources of the public administration as well as to parliamentary control, for the benefit of citizens."
Requirements: You'll help make workplaces safer with the Commission des normes, de l'énergie, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST), inspecting workplaces and looking after the health and safety of workers.
Requirements: Do you love the woods and want to personally ensure all forestry and land projects are up to code? Then you should consider joining the team at the Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks.
Requirements: If none of those other jobs appeal to you and you're a student who wants to get some preliminary experience working in government before you graduate, this could be the right program for you.
Requirements: Similar to the Quebec government student jobs program, the Canadian government equivalent could be a valuable experience for you if you are a full-time high school, CEGEP, other college or university student.
In Quebec's 2021-2022 budget, tabled in March, the provincial government announced it would eliminate interest on student loans from April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022 — about a year less than the federal waiver extension.
Bryan St-Louis, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, told us that the provincial government also permanently increased its monthly living allowance from $434 to $456 for students living with their parents and from $929 to $975 for students living on their own.
Students who get an additional allowance for "training support materials" — an optional loan that allows students to buy, replace or repair their equipment, especially computers — will also see a permanent increase.
The previous $150-per-semester allowance for equipment has been increased to $500 per four months of study.
Quebec's upcoming lump-sum payment for full-time students
Quebec's 2021 budget included a lump sum of $100 per semester for full-time students in CEGEPs and universities to "ease the financial burden on students, and help them bear the consequences of the health and economic crisis," St-Louis told MTL Blog.
However, the lump sum is only being offered for two semesters. Quebecers who were full-time students in the fall of 2020 and winter of 2021 are eligible, amounting to a total payment of $200.
St-Louis told MTL Blog that information on eligibility criteria, how to apply, application and payment dates, as well how the amount will be paid, will be announced in the coming weeks.
Put simply, tax credits allow you to "write off" expenses, deducting money from the amount you owe or adding to the amount you get back from the government. Non-refundable credits help with the former and refundable credits help with the latter, FYI.
You must have paid the amounts to a qualified Canadian journalism organization (QCJO) that does not hold a licence to broadcast. It should be a digital news subscription to content that is primarily original news.
If you shared the subscription with another person, you can split the tax claim. However, the total amount of your claim and the other person’s claim cannot be more than the maximum amount allowed for the credit, the federal government says.
Infertility Treatment (Quebec)
In Quebec, you can claim a refundable tax credit for expenses related to an in vitro fertilization, if you meet the following conditions:
You were resident in Quebec on December 31 of the covered taxation year
You paid the expenses in that taxation year
Neither you nor your spouse had a child before the start of the treatment for the expenses you're claiming
A physician has certified that neither you nor your spouse underwent surgical sterilization by vasectomy or tubal ligation for reasons that are not strictly medical
Revenu Québec says you should not include expenses if you were already reimbursed for them or if you were entitled to a reimbursement — unless the reimbursement is included in your income.
Donations & Gifts (Line 34900)
If you, your spouse or your common-law partner donated money to certain institutions, like a Canadian charity, you may be able to claim non-refundable tax credits.
The federal government website says, generally, you can claim all or part of the eligible amount up to a limit of 75% of your net income.
provincial or territorial government laws similar to those acts
If you don't have taxes to pay for the year you paid the interest, the government says it's to your advantage not to claim it on your return — you can carry the interest forward and apply it on your return for any of the next five years.
You can claim this tax credit if you made donations by cash or cheque to eligible Quebec political parties.
The tax credit applies to donations to:
Official representatives of municipal political parties or independent candidates authorized under Quebec's Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities; and
financial representatives of municipal party leadership candidates authorized under this Act.
You can't claim this provincial credit if you were a political party candidate, independent candidate or leadership candidate of an authorized party and you made contributions for your own benefit or the benefit of the party.
Volunteer Firefighting (Line 31220)
You can claim a $3,000 non-refundable credit for the federal volunteer firefighters' amount (VFA) if you were a volunteer firefighter in 2020.
The services you would have had to perform to claim the SRVA include:
responding to and being on call for search and rescue-related emergency calls as a search and rescue volunteer
attending meetings held by the organization performing the search and rescue
participating in required training related to search and rescue services
Your search and rescue organization can tell you if it is eligible for the SRVA — but the Search and Rescue Volunteer Association of Canada, the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association or the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary are all eligible organizations.
You can also claim a provincial search and rescue volunteers' credit in Quebec.