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BREAKING: Student Choice Initiative defeated in Ontario Divisional Court

By Emma Sandri

In a unanimous decision, an Ontario Divisional Court ruled that the Doug Ford government’s Student Choice Initiative (SCI) was “unlawful,” according to the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). 

The CFS and York Federation of Students (YFS) filed a legal challenge against the Ontario government’s Student Choice Initiative (SCI), which was first announced in January by Merrilee Fullerton, former minister of training, colleges and universities.

The SCI allowed post-secondary students to opt out of certain ancillary fees which were previously a mandatory part of tuition. These fees—which were deemed “non-essential” in March—funded campus student groups, cultural associations, student unions and campus media organizations, such as radio stations and newspapers. 

That includes the Ryerson Students’ Union, the Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson, Ryerson’s campus radio station CJRU and The Eyeopener, among others. 

The legal challenge was heard in court last month. Lawyers for the CFS and YFS argued that the decision to make some student fees optional was an attack on universities’ independence and was in bad faith. 

“The panel of judges ruled in our favour, stating that the provincial government acted without statutory authority,” said CFS’ at-large executive in a statement. 

“This is a historic moment for our movement, and it shows that the students united will never be defeated!” 

More to come.

1 Comment

  1. Paul Knox

    They keep trying to hobble and punish student newspapers for reflecting students, campuses and society back to them – for saying things that power doesn’t want to hear. You can trace it back for decades. Sometimes it’s the university admin, sometimes the student union – but this was the worst, a government that thinks it’s a nanny to adults.

    You want to give students choice? How about funding uni programs properly so they can actually offer those great-sounding electives in the course calendar? How about funding that allows for hard caps on class sizes? How about faculty performance metrics that reward real scholarship and engagement with students & the community instead of “least publishable data?” Those are things a government that cared about education could do, instead of cheap dragging for votes by unilaterally abolishing students’ right to choose and support their media via the democratic vote.

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