Toronto, ON – The Canadian Federation of Students and the York Federation of Students have jointly filed a legal challenge against the Government of Ontario’s Student Choice Initiative, on the basis that the government lacked the authority to implement such a policy and acted with improper purpose.
“This policy is a direct attack on students’ ability to organize and provide essential services on campus,” said Sofia Descalzi, incoming chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. “It is a clear attempt to silence students’ unions and student organizations who have a long history of holding administrations and governments accountable when it comes to creating accessible, affordable and safer campuses.”
The Student Choice Initiative, which was announced on January 17, gives post-secondary students the ability to opt in of certain previously mandatory student fees, such as their students’ union fee or fees going to on campus services like food banks and LGBTQ support centres. Other fees, such as athletics and some health and safety programming, will remain essential.
“We are filing this legal challenge on behalf of all students, students’ unions and student organizations, including campus media and student clubs, the province,” said Kayla Weiler, the Canadian Federation of Students’ Ontario representative. “Despite its claim, the Ford government is not for the people and it is certainly not for the students. Students’ unions have been democratically voted in place by students and should remain free of government interference.”
The Canadian Federation of Students represents over 350,000 students in Ontario, including members of the York Federation of Students, one of the largest students’ union in the province.
“Students’ unions provide essential services on campus like food banks, LGBTQ centres and sexual assault crisis support,” said Fatima Babiker, York Federation of Students president. “By deeming these fees non-essential, the Ford government is effectively saying that students and their wellbeing don’t matter.”
The challenge was filed last Thursday and the Canadian Federation is hopeful this matter will be considered in time to prevent the full implementation of the policy before the fall semester begins.
The Canadian Federation of Students is the oldest and largest national student organization in Canada, representing over 500,000 college, undergraduate and graduate students across the country.
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