The Student Choice Initiative as formulated by the Ford government is unlawful according to the Ontario Divisional Court decision announced on Thursday, Nov. 21.
The SCI allowed post-secondary students to opt out of certain student fees and moved the entire process online.
Student groups all over Ontario have won a nine-month long battle against the government’s initiative.
“We, the students, have won a legal challenge against the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and the Ontario Government! The panel of judges ruled in our favour, stating that the provincial government acted without statutory authority when implementing the Student Choice Initiative,” Felipe J. Nagata, chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students, said in a press release.
The Canadian Federation of Students—Ontario (CFS—O) and the York Federation of Students (YFS) jointly filed an application for judicial review on May 24.
They claimed that the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities (MTCU) did not follow the legal principles of procedural fairness and natural justice, because they did not consult with student groups about the SCI.
“Students’ unions are autonomous organizations and there has never been a place for government interference in their affairs,” Fatima Babiker, president of YFS, said in a press release.
“The services that student organizations on campus provide have been democratically voted on by the students themselves.”
The University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) acted as an intervener, and was represented by Borden Ladner Gervais LLP while the YFS and CFS—O were represented by Goldblatt Partners LLP.
CFS—O argued that the government was overstepping its authority with the decision to implement the SCI and that the SCI was created to target student groups.
Protests against the SCI began on its very first day in almost every post-secondary institution in Ontario, as many on-campus services like food banks, legal aid clinics and campus media stood to lose funding.
Student groups took a number of steps to fight this decision like signing petitions, going on strikes, walking out of class.
“This is a hard fought victory,” Kayla Weiler, the Canadian Federation of Students’ Ontario representative, said in a press release.
Imprint Publications’ fee of $4.35 was optional prior to and following the SCI’s implementation.