March 28, 2008

Student Fees Lawsuit Ruled a Political Matter

TORONTO–Today, the Honourable Madam Justice Joan L. Lax of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled against consideration of the $200 million class action lawsuit to stop prohibited college ancillary fees. Justice Lax’s ruling found that the enforcement of the Minister’s ‘Binding Policy Directive’ on ancillary fees is the responsibility of the government, not the Court.

“Today’s ruling means that hundreds of thousands of students who were wrongfully charged fees have no legal recourse,” said Jen Hassum, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. “We’ve always known that the McGuinty government had the ability to stop prohibited ancillary fees but this ruling makes it clear that it is solely their responsibility.”

The lawsuit against all 24 public colleges in Ontario was filed by two former college students in June 2007. The legal action was initiated as a result of the failure of successive Training, Colleges and Universities Ministers to enforce their own ‘Binding Policy Directive’ that prohibits tuition-related ancillary fees.

“Premier McGuinty has known about the prohibited ancillary fees for more than 14 years, yet his government continues to turn a blind eye while the colleges wrongfully take tens-of-millions of dollars from students every year,” said Dan Roffey, a former George Brown College student who was one of two representative plaintiffs. “The McGuinty government has publicly refused to take responsibility because this case was before the Court. Now Premier McGuinty going to have to stop hiding behind lawyers and fix this problem.”

“While we are disappointed with today’s ruling, Dan and I have no regrets about bringing this case forward,” said former Conestoga College student Amanda Hassum. “It took our lawsuit to bring attention to these unjust fees and I hope that the government will finally take action because of it.”

The representative plaintiffs have an automatic right to appeal the Ontario court’s ruling and will make a decision on how to proceed after consulting with their legal counsel. Representatives of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario will be meeting with Training, Colleges and
Universities’ Minister Milloy next week to discuss concerns about high tuition fees, prohibited ancillary fees and the government’s chronic under-funding of Ontario’s public colleges.

“As long as college students are being charged prohibited fees, this fight isn’t over,” said Jen Hassum.

More information, including a copy of the ruling, is available on the website.