Student Choice Initiative defeated in Ontario Divisional Court

BREAKING: Student Choice Initiative defeated in Ontario Divisional Court

An Ontario divisional court has unanimously overruled the Ford government's Student Choice Initiative, which allowed postsecondary students to opt-out of paying some student fees.

The CFS filed the legal challenge back in May, along with the York Federation of Students (YFS), arguing the province lacked the authority to implement the policy and acted with improper goal in doing so.

"In the face of appalling incidents like these, students in Ontario deserve the right to choose which student organizations they fund with their tuition dollars".

Of the ruling, CFS representative Kayla Weiler said, "Today the Ontario Divisional Court has confirmed what students already knew: the Student Choice Initiative is unlawful, and the Ford government acted beyond their authority".

University campus radio stations and student newspapers are among the campus groups feeling relief in the wake of an Ontario court's decision to quash an order from the province's Progressive Conservative government that effectively cratered their funding.

Transit and infrastructure projects are among the top priorities, the government said, as well as increased funding for healthcare.

But Weiler, for now, is unsure of the exact path ahead - whether this year's fees could be collected retroactively from students, whether they would start fresh in September, or whether there was a possibility of the government footing the bill for any lost revenue to student groups and services.

The fees at the heart of the dispute support clubs, students societies and other non-essential programs, but don't include athletics and recreation programs, career services or health and counselling services.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford will chair a new "Council on Provincial-Federal Relations" to engage the federal government on shared concerns like infrastructure. Collectively, we have long called for increased public funding for Ontario's universities that would allow the government to responsibly lower tuition fees and abandon its unsafe plans for performance-based funding.

Jenessa Crognali, press secretary for Attorney General Doug Downey's office, told the Canadian Press Thursday that the ruling is being reviewed.

The NDP first reported the cost of the cancellations Tuesday, saying the $231 million figure was listed as "other transactions", buried in government documents detailing spending in the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

"I've been cautiously optimistic about this for a little while", said CJAM station manager Brady Holek, who has been following the fight through Ontario courts.

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