Published: Sun, November 24, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Divisional court strikes down province's Student Choice Initiative

Divisional court strikes down province's Student Choice Initiative

Premier Doug Ford speaks at the Grand River Transit bus garage in Kitchener in August 2019.

An Ontario Divisional Court ruling Thursday struck down the so-called Student Choice Initiative making some post-secondary student fees optional, saying it interferes with their functions and independence.

But the Canadian Federation of Students has called it an attempt to silence voices that hold the government accountable, such as student unions and campus media.

Ryerson University's campus newspaper The Eyeopener said almost 56 per cent of full-time students chose not to pay $5.65 to help fund it. "Students' unions are a vital part of the campus community and we will continue to work with them to advance our shared goal of fostering vibrant universities that provide accessible, quality education and innovative, ground-breaking research". Athletics, meanwhile - "which are much more expensive", the decision noted - were deemed essential for students to fund.

At the U of O, about one in four students opted-out of non-essential fees in the fall semester. Further, it confirms the central role of academic freedom and institutional autonomy in ensuring universities are able to operate effectively, free of political interference from government. The Divisional Court began proceedings in this case on October 11. "The Ministry of Colleges and Universities is now reviewing the decision released yesterday".

"Every jurisdiction around the world is trying to figure out how to bring more renewables onto their electricity grids", she said.

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"Our democracy is valid, and it was never not valid", she later added.

"Students were forced into unions and forced to pay for those unions", Ford said in a fundraising email sent by the Progressive Conservatives earlier this year.

"Their actions were unlawful and now the students are suffering, the campus services are suffering", he said.

In a statement issued today, NCRA executive directer Barry Rooke said, "The Student Choice Initiative has had a destructive impact on campus stations across Ontario leading to loss of operating funds and layoffs". Many have suffered substantial financial woundings, and limited the services they offer or the number of staff they regularly employ.

Former YFS President Fatima Babiker said: "We have filed this legal challenge alongside the Canadian Federation of Students to show clear representation from students' unions themselves who are opposed to this devastating policy".

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