As many of us pack our bags to head back to school this Monday, the Ontario government has just made an announcement that will affect anyone in post-secondary this fall.
Doug Ford's government announced the decision in a statement to mandate every post-secondary institution in Ontario to have a freedom of speech policy by January 1, 2019, that they will be able to hold students accountable from. The policy will also be closely related to the funding each institution will receive.
Today I heard from post-secondary students about the importance of free speech on campuses. We discussed how we can do better, because schools should be a place where students have the freedom to discuss a wide range of issues. pic.twitter.com/WsBld68NZV— Doug Ford (@fordnation) August 30, 2018
All policies will be monitored by the provincial government in the September of 2019, at the start of the next school year. The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario will be in charge of monitoring the schools and those that do not comply with the mandated policy will face budget cuts.
The decision is not all that surprising, as Ford said during his campaign earlier this year that freedom of speech would be tied to post-secondary funding.
Premier Ford is mandating Ontario colleges and universities to introduce a free speech policy by January 1, 2019. This policy will help protect free speech and foster learning environments that encourage freedom of thought and respectful and responsible debate. pic.twitter.com/s0Jd4nnBrZ— Ontario News Now (@OntarioNewsNow) August 30, 2018
The policies must apply to all students, staff, guests and management of college or university institutions. Those who choose not to comply with the policy will also face disciplinary action, including students being expelled and staff being let go.
The policy also must include the basic definition of freedom of speech, as well as allow "open discussion and free inquiry." There is to be no shielding of ideas or opinions, as well as the ability to openly construct or criticize one another's opinions. Still violating the law with your speech will not be tolerated.
Funding to post-secondary institutions has never been tied with freedom of speech in past. This means that students who disagree with this policy will either have to complain formally or be wary of the disciplinary action.
While the new policies won't affect schools during the 2018-2019 school year, it's unclear how much funding would be revoked if these policies were to be broken.