OTTAWA- November 25, 2019 - On Thursday, November 21st, Ontario’s Divisional Court unanimously struck down the Student Choice Initiative, a policy directive from the Ontario Government that deemed certain fees collected by post-secondary students’ unions as non-essential. The Student Choice Initiative, announced by the Ontario Government in January 2019, was challenged by a joint application for judicial review on behalf of the Canadian Federation of Students Ontario and the York Federation of Students in May of this year.
The policy directive came to fruition in Ontario for the 2019-2020 academic year, and left students’ unions across the province scrambling to understand what services they would be able to continue to provide to their students. Several student association services defined as non-essential, including support centres, student newspapers, and advocacy efforts on behalf of students, were left in jeopardy.
Services that require fees to be collected from students by students’ unions are democratically voted upon by students. Among the extensive list of rationale provided in the Ontario Divisional Courts’ decision was the assertion that, “there is no statutory authority authorizing Cabinet or the Minister to interfere in the internal affairs of these student associations.”
“This is a precedent-setting decision for post-secondary students in Canada,” said Adam Brown, CASA Chair and University of Alberta Students’ Union Vice-President External. “The past few months have been difficult for students in Ontario, and it is our sincere hope that this decision will lead to the reinstatement of predictable funding for services that improve and protect students’ quality of life.”
CASA will continue to oppose any attempt to reduce or eliminate student services, campus life, and advocacy across the country. CASA will continue to stand with all students to oppose voluntary student union policies.
Established in 1995, the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) is a non-partisan, not-for-profit, national student organization composed of 23 student associations representing 280,000 post-secondary students from coast to coast. With its partnership with the Quebec Student Union (QSU), CASA represents a total of 360,000 students across Canada and presents a national student voice to the federal government. CASA advocates for a Canadian post-secondary education system that is accessible, affordable, innovative, and of the highest quality.
Annie Sherry, Director of Communications and Operations