In a unanimous decision, the Divisional Court rejected the Ford government’s Student Choice Initiative, which mandated universities and colleges to allow post-secondary students to opt out of student fees decided upon through democratic referenda.
“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 Ford 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.
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 may be no longer under the threat of losing their funding voted upon through democratic referenda. While it is likely that the Ford government will appeal the decision, this is an important precedent for Ontario’s student movement.
See the full details of the Divisional Court’s decision here!
Representatives from the CFS-Ontario and YFS at Queen’s Park on November 22, 2019.