An Open Letter to the Honourable Merrillee Fullerton, Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities from Joel Harden, Official Opposition Critic for Accessibility and Persons with Disabilities MPP for Ottawa Centre
The Hon. Merrilee Fullerton
Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities
Mowat Block 3rd Floor, 900 Bay Street
Toronto, ON M7A 1L2
Dear Minister Fullerton,
Yesterday, you told Global News that you would “have to double check” whether or not accessibility and disability services will be deemed mandatory fees under your government’s new “student choice initiative” fee model.
Since your office first announced this fee model in January, post-secondary students with disabilities and the on-campus groups that represent them have been deeply worried about the prospect of a massive student opt-out from the fees that support their full inclusion in campus life.
For the thousands of college and university students across Ontario who live with a disability, on-campus accessibility services are crucial to their ability to learn, get around campus and access critical social supports. To make the fees that support these services optional is to tell students with disabilities that they don’t belong at college or university.
I ask that your office provide immediate clarification on the matter of accessibility and disability services. The NDP strongly believes that the democratically-elected student unions determine what is to be funded through student fees, and that your “opt-out” scheme is nothing more than an attack on student unions, and the students that rely on them. We strongly oppose your government’s choice to impose your will on student governments.
Your government’s opt-out policy pits campus groups representing vulnerable students against one another, and it sends the message to Ontario’s marginalized post-secondary students — including students with disabilities, LGBTQ students, students who are victims of sexual assault and racialized students — that the services that support their safety, well-being and academic success on campus don’t matter.
Ontario students deserve better, regardless of ability.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Official Opposition Critic for Accessibility and Persons with Disabilities
MPP for Ottawa Centre