By Madi Wong
The provincial government is filing an appeal to reinstate the Student Choice Initiative (SCI) that was deemed “unlawful” in an Ontario court last month.
On Nov. 21, an Ontario Divisional Court ruled that the Doug Ford’s government’s SCI was “unlawful” according to the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS).
This came after the CFS and York Federation of Students (YFS) filed a legal challenge against the provincial government’s SCI that was introduced in January by former minister of training, colleges and universities, Merrilee Fullerton.
The SCI allowed post-secondary students to opt out of certain ancillary fees that were originally a mandatory part of tuition. The fees that were deemed “non-essential” included campus student groups, cultural associations, student unions and campus media organizations, such as radio stations and newspapers.
“Students have been vocally angry within our campuses, and they are simply not ok with the provincial government making decisions on their behalf,” said Fatima Babiker, president of YFS at a Queen’s Park conference on Nov. 22.
Premier Doug Ford’s government is now aiming to restore the SCI and has applied for leave to appeal the Nov. 21 ruling that revoked it.
The Globe and Mail reported that in a government brief, the government argues that “attaching conditions to government grants in no way interferes with university autonomy and independence.”
The government brief also states that “universities remain free to exercise their independence and autonomy through the choice to accept public funding, subject to whatever conditions are attached.”
According to Michelle Grady, media and communications specialist for Ryerson, the university is yet to share any statement regarding opt-out portals.
More to come.