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The Ontario Court of Appeal is seen in Toronto on April 8, 2019. The Appeal Court says in its ruling that the policy is a 'profound interference in university autonomy.'Colin Perkel/The Canadian Press

Ontario’s highest court has upheld a ruling that found a government directive making some post-secondary student fees optional to be unlawful.

A lower court had previously struck down the government’s so-called Student Choice Initiative, but the government took the case to the Court of Appeal for Ontario, which reached the same conclusion.

The Appeal Court says in its ruling that the policy is a “profound interference in university autonomy.”

The Canadian Federation of Students says the policy was never about saving students money, rather “it was an attempt to silence and defund students’ unions and groups that are critical of and hold the government accountable.”

Campus organizations such as student unions, newspapers and radio stations, food banks and LGBTQ support centres had to lay off staff or reduce services because they received less funding when the opt-out provisions were enacted in 2019.

The Ministry of Colleges and Universities says it is still reviewing the decision from the court, but that it remains committed to increasing transparency.

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