Document Reveals Ministry Warned Colleges in 2004 Not to Charge
TORONTO, Sept. 4 /CNW/ - A memorandum, recently acquired through an
access to information request, has revealed that the presidents of Ontario's
community colleges were warned by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and
Universities not to charge prohibited ancillary fees for "building and
information technology infrastructure improvements or student support
services" as recently as July 2004.
This June, two former college students launched an unprecedented
$200 million class action lawsuit against all 24 public colleges in the
province to stop the collection of illegal ancillary fees and seek
compensation for students and graduates who have been forced to pay them. A
case management judge has been appointed to oversee the certification process
for the lawsuit and legal counsel for the representative plaintiffs filed
affidavits last week that lay out a plan for the proceedings.
"Minister Bentley keeps saying that he'll respond to complaints about
illegal fees, but we haven't heard back," said Dan Roffey, a representative
plaintiff. "Our lawsuit is the most formal complaint possible and this
government has responded with three months of silence and inaction."
Training, Colleges and Universities Minister Chris Bentley has repeatedly
refused to comment on his Ministry's lack of enforcement of its own
prohibition against the collection of ancillary fees to fund capital projects
or core academic operations-both of which are already funded by tuition fees
collected from students and direct government grants.
"The Government of Ontario is not a party to this lawsuit so Minister
Bentley and Premier McGuinty have no excuse for hiding behind the courts,"
said Doug Elliott, legal counsel for the representative plaintiffs. "It's in
everyone's best interest for the Premier to do his duty and stop the
prohibited fees now, so these students aren't forced to pursue their colleges
through the courts."
As part of its Stop Unfair Fees campaign, the Canadian Federation of
Students-Ontario released a new video clip of Dalton McGuinty on YouTube.com
today (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMsU4YN0Hn8). The video shows the Ottawa
South MPP in 1993 calling on the government to stop ancillary fees from being
improperly charged for operating costs which he described as "raising tuition
fees through the backdoor."
"This fall will mark the 14th year that Dalton McGuinty has known
ancillary fees are being used as backdoor tuition fee increases," said Jen
Hassum, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. "Unless
McGuinty immediately stops illegal ancillary fees and provides adequate
replacement funding for the colleges, he doesn't deserve the support of
students or their families in this election."
The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario unites over 300,000 college
and university students who study at more than 35 students' unions throughout
For further information:
For further information: Jen Hassum, Chairperson, CFS-Ontario: (416)
925-3825 or (416) 832-9073 (cell); Joel Duff, Organiser, CFS-Ontario: (416)
925-3825 or (416) 707-0349 (cell); Doug Elliott, Partner, Roy Elliott Kim
O'Connor LLP: (416) 362-1989