In a unanimous decision rendered yesterday, the Divisional Court quashed the Ford government’s Student Choice Initiative, which mandated universities and colleges to allow post-secondary students to opt out of their student fees.
“This is a historic moment for the student movement,” said Sofia Descalzi, National Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. “The Student Choice Initiative was a clear attack on student organizing on campuses by the Ford government. Students will not back down and will continue to fight for their right to represent the interests of students on campus and beyond.”
The Canadian Federation of Students and the York Federation of Students jointly filed the lawsuit in May 2019 on the basis that the government lacked the authority to implement such a policy and acted with improper purpose. On October 11, the CFS and the YFS argued before the court that the Student Choice Initiative negatively impacts the ability of student organizations to provide essential resources and services to students on campus.
“This is a hard fought victory,” said Kayla Weiler, the Canadian Federation of Students’ Ontario representative. “From day one, students across Ontario voiced their opposition to the Student Choice Initiative by protesting at Queen’s Park, walking out of class, holding strikes and collecting tens of thousands of petition signatures.”
The court determined that the government had no authority to interfere in the affairs of university and college students’ unions. This decision means student organizations on campuses across Ontario, including students’ unions, various support centres, student legal aid clinics, food banks and campus media are no longer under the threat of losing funding.
“Students’ unions are autonomous organizations and there has never been a place for government interference in their affairs. The services that student organizations on campus provide have been democratically voted on by the students themselves,” said Fatima Babiker, York Federation of Students President.