Funding for University Programs Takes a Hit

Plus more news on Canada's Best Lawyers 2020

Funding Cuts for Canadian University Programs

Joseph Begonis

December 6, 2019 08:00 AM

Goldblatt Partners: Mark Wright (Labour and Employment Law, 1987) is representing the Canadian Federation of Students–Ontario (CFS-O) in their challenge to the Province’s Student Choice Initiative (SCI). The Ford government instituted a policy that will let students opt out of fees that are deemed non-essential—such as clubs, student societies, and activities—by the provincial government. The goal of the SCI was to save students money, but a contradiction was raised in the court because the government simultaneously made major cuts to the Ontario Student Assistance Program.

“The autonomy of universities is threatened,” said Wright. He went on to tell the court that the government outline which services were essential and instead made a blanket cut. Furthermore he argued before the court that the government was acting in “bad faith” and that student groups and activities were specifically targeted by the SCI.

Wright quoted a fundraising email from Ontario Premier Doug Ford to the court. “I think we all know that kind of crazy Marxist nonsense student unions get up to, so we fixed that.”

The CFS-O believes that the Ontario College of Applied Arts and Technologies Act is limited to tuition fees. They argued that the provincial government and former Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities are exceeding their authority in addition to violating established agreements between student unions and respective administrations.

Pfefferle Law: Brian Pfefferle (Criminal Defence, 2008) represented Blair Johnathon Brian Prokopetz who was charged with manslaughter after a fatal stabbing of a rival gang member. Prokopetz stabbed Ken Balan in the stomach as revenge for being stabbed by the victim just a few days earlier. Pfefferle asked for leniency stating that the attack was brief and only involved one stab wound. Prokopetz was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Brazeau Seller: Trina Fraser (Cannabis Law, 2008) is representing a group of Ontario retail stores who recently were awarded rights to open a cannabis shop through the pot lottery. Many of the lottery winners could be facing delayed openings after several of the other winners had been disqualified under the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario’s rules. Lawsuits were filed by 11 of the disqualified winners. The judge dismissed the cases but imposed a two-week injunction on the processing of licenses by AGCO. “I think even a December opening, at this point, is optimistic,” said Fraser.

David Young Law: David Young (Advertising and Marketing Law; Insurance Law; Privacy and Data Security Law, 1983) has been appointed to lead an investigation of the health-and-safety practices of Fiera Foods after a temporary worker died at one of their factories. This is the fifth time since 2009—the third in three years—that a worker was killed at a Fiera Foods factory. "Fiera Foods was recently touched by tragedy and wants to ensure that such an incident never repeats itself," said Young. "My mandate is clear—put a safety lens on every operational element of the company and report back with recommendations that can help ensure a culture of safety exists throughout."

Dykeman & O'Brien: Mary Jane Dykeman (Health Care Law, 1999) spoke with AdvocateDaily about cybersecurity and cyberattacks that affect hospitals. There has been an increase in malware attacks that are targeting health care facilities leading to ransomware attacks, according to CBC News. The attacks locked files, took down email systems, and caused increased wait times for patients. “While this is challenging in any sector, including financial, government, and retail, it is particularly pressing in the health sector, where timely care matters. If there is downtime in the system, it has a real impact, not just on your organization, but for those who entrust you for care. The ideal situation is to have a backup, and not every organization does,” Dykeman said.

Honorable Mention:

Pape Salter Teillet: Jean Teillet (Aboriginal Law,1987) authored a new book about Louis Riel and the Metis people. During an event at the Regina Government House, Teillet told a gathering that many people were familiar with the story of Riel—of whom she is a great-grandniece—but the story of his people had previously been untold. “He’s not the beginning, he’s not the end,” she said of Riel. “The Metis nation is still here and it was here a long time before he came along.”

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