Sunday, December 1, 2019

Ontario court blocks Student Choice Initiative

Provincial government releases official guidelines on Student Choice Initiative, details of tuition cuts | The Varsity (University of Toronto), Adam A. Lam & Andy Takagi:

March 29, 2019 - "The Ontario government has released official guidelines for the Student Choice Initiative (SCI), the provincial mandate to give students an opt-out option for certain ancillary fees.... Incidental fees charged by universities to support clubs, student societies, and programs that fall outside of the provincial framework for compulsory fees will be required to have an opt-out option for students. The ability to opt out, according to the guidelines, must be presented to students before paying fees for that semester....

"Services can be deemed 'essential' by individual institutions, as long as they fall within the government’s established framework, which includes athletics and recreation, career services, student buildings, health and counselling, academic support, student ID cards, student achievement and records, financial aid offices, and campus safety programs. Levy-funded groups like various student unions — including college student associations, [student newspapers], and campus radio stations — will require an opt-out option, unless the university rationalizes these services as falling within one of the essential categories."
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Province reviewing decision that struck down Student Choice Initiative | The Journal (Queen's University), Raechel Huizinga:
November 29, 2019 - "The Divisional Court of Ontario unanimously struck down the Student Choice Initiative on Nov. 21.... In May, the Canadian Federation of Students–Ontario (CFS-O) and the York Federation of Students filed an application for judicial review against the Ford government over the SCI. The court heard arguments from both parties on Oct. 11.

"While the Ministry of Colleges and Universities (MCU) confirmed in a statement to The Journal on Monday it’s reviewing the court decision, there has been no word yet on whether the Province will appeal the decision. 'We will have more to say on this at a later date,' Tanya Blazina, team lead of the Ministry’s issues management and media relations, wrote....

"According to court documents published by The Varsity, the judges unanimously agreed neither the Cabinet nor the Minister had the authority to interfere with the 'democratic decisions taken by students respecting their student association membership fees. There is no statutory authority authorizing Cabinet or the Minister to interfere in the internal affairs of universities generally, or in the relations between universities and student associations specifically,' the decision read."
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