Students Launch $200 million Class Action Lawsuit to Recover Illegally Collected Fees



    TORONTO, June 6 /CNW/ - Today, two students, acting on behalf of
thousands of other college students across Ontario, launched a $200 million
class action lawsuit against the province's 24 community colleges of applied
arts and technology, claiming that certain types of prohibited ancillary fees
have been collected illegally. At the same time, they notified the Government
of Ontario of their intention to serve it with a similar statement of claim in
60 days.
    Ancillary fees are charged to students for auxiliary services and are in
addition to tuition fees. However, government policy prohibits the collection
of ancillary fees to fund capital projects or core academic operations, which
are already covered by tuition fees or general purpose operating grants.
Despite clear restrictions, the government of Ontario has allowed it to become
a universal practice for colleges across the province to collect fees for such
things as information technology, labs, libraries, and the mandatory lease of
laptops.
    "Ontario's college students have been paying illegal fees for years and
the Ontario government turned a blind eye," said Dan Roffey, one of two
students who launched the case. "What kind of message does it send to students
when we are told that we will fail if we cheat on an assignment, but at the
same time we catch our college administrators cheating on our fees?"
    "As a student who has struggled to make ends meet, I am angry that the
government pretended to freeze tuition fees while allowing additional fees to
be collected illegally," said Amanda Hassum, the second representative
plaintiff. "Premier McGuinty broke his promise to students by claiming to lock
the front door while leaving the back door wide open."
    The two students who launched the court challenge are acting as
"representative plaintiffs" in a class action lawsuit that is seeking
compensation for every student who paid the illegal fees.
    "This case is about playing by the rules," said Doug Elliott, the
students' legal counsel and named partner of Roy Elliott Kim O'Connor. "The
government sets the rules for how fees are collected and they have a
responsibility to ensure that the colleges obey those rules. If they won't
enforce the rules, we will do it for them."
    The Canadian Federation of Students, which represents more than 500,000
college and university students from coast to coast, and nearly 300,000
students in Ontario, helped the plaintiffs connect with their legal counsel
and compile the background research for their case.
    "No educational institution should be able to circumvent the law in order
to download additional costs onto individual students," said Jesse Greener,
Ontario Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. "It is our hope
that this case will prevent such fees from being collected in the future."





For further information:

For further information: Jesse Greener, Ontario Chairperson, (416)
925-3825 or (416) 301-5747 (cell); Célia Jutras, Ontario Francophone
Representative, (416) 828-0476 (cell); Doug Elliott, Roy Elliott Kim O'Connor
LLP, (416) 350-2470


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