Canadian Federation of Students tells Doug Ford that post-secondary education isn't just about what goes on in the classroom

The rabble podcast network offers an alternative take on politics, entertainment, society, stories, community and life in general. All opinions belong to the podcaster; however, podcasters are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new podcasters -- contact us for details.

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support for as little as $5 per month!

Canadian Federation of Students protest at Queens Park January 18 2019

The Doug Ford government is continuing to cut back and change post-secondary education in Ontario. One of the things announced last week was a plan to make ancillary fees optional. Those are fees that students pay for a wide variety things that aren’t directly related to their course work.

Right now, in many cases, students can already opt out by paying and asking for a refund. This new idea is an "opt-in" strategy, where students would be given a menu of choices where they check off what they want to pay and not. This makes it easier for students to have a say in what they want to fund. Critics of the plan say that students will be tempted by the short-term savings while eroding campus life and the educational experience for students in general. They say it also has the potential to significantly erode student activism. 

And it wouldn't apply to all non-academic fees. Things like library and athletic fees would still be mandatory. The Canadian Federation of Students says that the opt-out arrangement would only apply to those things that are considered "Student Experience Fees," which are the fees applied to most extra-curricular organizations and activities on campus. Things like student council fees, bus passes, student media and even health and dental plans will be subject to the new rules. In some cases, like student council fees, we're talking $100-200 per year. In some cases, it can be just a few dollars for things like campus media, Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) or donations to, for example, WUSC's Student Refugee Program.

The CFS has an additional reason to fight back -- the fees that students pay for CFS membership would also be subject to the opt-out clause.

On today’s rabble radio, Victoria Fenner talks to Hildah Otieno, the executive director of CFS Ontario, who says this idea will severely limit students' ability to have their voices heard on campus. They talked yesterday by phone from the CFS office in Toronto, and she explained what kinds of services would be impacted and what the effects of this opt-out strategy would be.

Help make rabble sustainable. Please consider supporting our work with a monthly donation. Support today for as little as $1 per month!

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable. has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.