Mahdis Habibinia | Executive Editor, Online
Featured image courtesy of CFS-Ontario
Today, the Divisional Court of Ontario unanimously deemed the Student Choice Initiative (SCI) as unlawful.
The SCI, announced in January 2019, is a mandate directive from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities that allowed post-secondary students to opt-out of ancillary fees, which fund certain student groups, that the government deemed non-essential. Ford’s government presented post-secondary institutions with an ultimatum: to implement this option by the fall 2019 semester or be subject to reduced funding.
On May 23, 2019, the Canadian Federation of Students–Ontario (CFS-O) and the York Federation of Students (YFS) filed an Administrative Legal Challenge against the SCI stating it represents a lack of legal authority and bad faith. CFS-O and YFS further stated that it was an unfair policy because the Ministry did not consult the student groups that would be affected by the SCI.
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.”
In a unanimous decision today, however, the Divisional Court ruled in favour of these student groups and the CFS–O announced that its legal challenge against the SCI was successful.
Tanya Blazina, Team Lead of Issues Management & Media Relations for the Ministry of Colleges & Universities, says: “The Ministry of Colleges and Universities is currently reviewing the decision released on November 21st. We will have more to say on this at a later date.”
Many of the ancillary fees in students’ tuition fund student-run services and groups including: sports and recreation, student unions such as the YFS, publications such as Excalibur, radio associations, food centres, the Student Centre, cultural groups, special services, counselling, and more.
“We are aware of the ruling regarding the Student Choice Initiative and are monitoring the situation in order to determine next steps,” says Acting Chief Spokesperson for York, Yanni Dagonas.