$1 million to pay in “withheld” CFS funds by URSU  

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Burn, baby burn. Lee Lim

$500,000 has already been paid 

Despite the 2020 referendum voting against it, the University of Regina Students’ Union (URSU) will be paying a grand total of $1 million to the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). 

The 2020 referendum is when students voted to stop paying fees to the CFS. URSU label on their website the 2020 referendum as one that was “illegal, violated URSU’s contractual agreements, and placed a large liability on URSU and students.”  

In the August 9, 2022 meeting minutes package, URSU brough forth “Motion A: Canadian Federation of Students – Withheld Dues,” where it was stated URSU withheld these dues from the CFS between 2015-2020. These dues amounted to $1 million within the five year period. URSU determined in August it would pay $500,000 in withheld fees over the next five years, with an immediate payment of $500,000.     

The money being paid to the CFS is made up of student fees.  

While the 2020 referendum opted out of paying CFS fees, motion A explained that URSU was “legally indefensible in terms of the dues between 2015-2020.” URSU will decide what to do with the remaining fees still withheld at their next Annual General Meeting, which according to the meeting minutes from December 13, 2022 is being planned for 5 p.m. on March 2, 2023.  

The August 9, 2022 URSU meeting minutes package was a part of the six months of URSU meeting minutes that were not published within the 14-day timeframe following the resolution of the meeting. The Carillon has requested a statement from URSU about why it took so long to publish the minutes.  

Students previously paid for CFS services costing them $157,000 a year for federal and provincial advocacy.  

In 2016, Shawn Wiskar, URSU VP of external affairs, said that post-secondary students did not see the benefits of the membership in our location on the prairies. “It’s [the federation’s contributions] not really working effectively here in Saskatchewan,” said Wiskar to the Carillon on October 2, 2016. “We find that they don’t really do a lot for us. We pay fees and then we don’t really see what happens to those fees.” 

In the 2020 URSU referendum, students made a clear decision they wanted to stop paying these fees. The plebiscite from the 2020 referendum stated “since 2016, CFS has failed to provide any meaningful campaigns that would benefit students in Saskatchewan.” If the students voted in favour of the 2020 referendum, they would be voting that “none of the URSU student fees I have paid or will pay in the future be submitted to CFS and/or CFS Saskatchewan.”  

The vote went through with 861 in favour, 99 against, and 615 abstained.  

URSU has stated in motion A that remaining dues will have to be paid to leave the CFS permanently. Questions began to arise about the student fees and the CFS last year. In March 2022, the Carillon reported on students organizing the “Speak Up and Vote No” campaign in protest towards the 2022 referendum. They mentioned concerns whether URSU had begun the process of opting out of CFS fees, despite the referendum being approved two years earlier.  

The Carillon has made a request to speak to URSU about CFS funds.  

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