Province will appeal decision that overturned Student Choice Initiative

The government cited authority to attach conditions to university and college funding

The Divisional Court of Ontario ruled in favour of students last month, quashing the Ministry's directive.
Wikimedia Commons

The Ontario government has applied for leave to appeal a Divisional Court ruling that struck down the Student Choice Initiative (SCI), The Globe and Mail reported Monday evening.

The SCI—a directive that deemed many student fees “non-essential” and allowed students to opt out of them—was unanimously struck down by a panel of judges on Nov. 21. The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario (CFS-O) and the York Federation of Students (YFS) filed an application for judicial review in May.

While the Divisional Court ruled the Province overstepped its authority and interfered with universities’ autonomy by establishing the SCI, the government is arguing the decision restricts its authority to attach conditions to public funding.

“Attaching conditions to government grants in no way interferes with university autonomy and independence. Universities remain free to exercise their independence and autonomy through the choice to accept public funding, subject to whatever conditions are attached,” the government brief reads.

The government is also arguing the SCI was established as part of an attempt to make post-secondary education more accessible. When the Divisional Court heard the case’s first arguments on Oct.11, it questioned whether the SCI would be effective in light of cuts to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) this year.

While Queen's has yet to comment on the developments, the University of Toronto recently closed its online opt-out portal ahead of the winter term.

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