Today’s court decision is a historic victory for student democracy, campus life, and the well-being of students. Following the unanimous Divisional Court ruling, this Court of Appeal ruling further reaffirms that the so-called “Student Choice Initiative (SCI)” is not only a harmful policy, but an unlawful one.
“Today’s ruling reflects what students have been saying across the province, the Ford government’s assault democratic processes and student unions is not only unnecessary but unlawful. Students’ unions exist on campuses around the world to provide students with a united voice, advocate for change and operate essential support services. Ontario’s students deserve the same and it is not the place of the Premier or Minister to interfere with long-standing democratic processes,” points out Kayla Weiler, National Executive Representative for the Canadian Federation of Students – Ontario.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, students’ unions have and will continue to demonstrate how they are providing a wide range of services that are essential for students. Through democratically determined fees on campus, students’ unions and groups funding provide the resources for Pride/LGBTQ2S+ centres, women’s centres, cultural groups and clubs, campus media, food banks, academic advocacy and many other services that students rely on daily.
“This ruling reaffirms the essential nature of students’ union operations and allows them to get back to doing the important work they are relied upon for without harmful political interference from the Ford government,” states Riaz Nandan, President of the York Federation of Students.
The SCI was never about saving students money, it was an attempt to silence and defund students’ unions and groups that are critical of and hold the government accountable while providing support for students’ well-being on- and off-campus. This was an unprecedented and entirely improper intrusion upon the autonomy of colleges and universities.
“It is not the place of the government to meddle in the democratic processes of student unions, their operations and budgets – today’s ruling further confirms this. For over 40 years the Canadian Federation of Students has advocated for students and will continue to do so,” highlights Wesam AbdElhamid Mohamed, Deputy Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students.
Students’ unions across the province are looking forward to getting back to their important work without the fear of government interference and this adverse policy. Further, we call on the government to respect the decisions of the Divisional Court and Court of Appeal and not take this issue to the Supreme Court. We hope in the future the Ontario government will begin to prioritize funding and safety precautions needed during this pandemic, rather than taking democratic student organizations to court and wasting public money better spent elsewhere.
The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario is the oldest and largest student organization in Ontario, representing over 350,000 college and university students in every region of the province.
SOURCE Canadian Federation of Students – Ontario
For further information: For further information or to set up an interview contact: Michael Butler, Government Relations and Policy Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 437-771-2129