Students in Algonquin’s scriptwriting program have to raise an additional $1,500 for their annual trip to Toronto, as Doug Ford’s new opt-out policy takes effect province-wide.

The trip, which provides students in the single-year grad certificate program with the opportunity to pitch their scripts to producers like Netflix, CTV and CBC, used to be partially funded by the Students’ Association.

However, the new opt-out policy, which took effect in the 2019 school year, (that allowed students to opt-out of fees deemed non-essential), has resulted in the Students’ Association eliminating their contribution to the trip.

As a result, students in the program will have to engage in additional fundraising this year.

The contribution of the Students’ Association covered approximately half of the bus cost for the trip to Toronto and back.

Teri Loretto, the coordinator of the scriptwriting program, had initially hoped the Students’ Association would still be able to contribute but was informed by the Students’ Association that they would not be able to help.

Teri Loretto, coordinator of the scriptwriting program in her office. Staff and students in the program now have to raise more money than usual due to not receiving funding from the Students' Association.

“When I asked them flat-out ‘why not,’ it was directly correlated to Doug Ford’s policy to enable students to back-out of paying their student fees, voluntary student fees now,” Loretto said.

Students’ Association President Deijanelle Simon confirmed in an email to the Times that trip-funding had been ceased.

“ What that means is that $1,500 dollars is no longer available. Which, means the [full] burden of cost is now settled on the students’ shoulders, which is the worst place to put that cost,” Loretto said.

She says that the need to raise additional funds is taking away from much-needed study time. “Now we have to split our focus between teaching coordinating curriculum — all the stuff we need to get these students up to speed and we have to fundraise.”

This sentiment is shared by students in the program.

“It’s just really unfair that we should have to raise all this money in a limited amount of time on top of all the course work we’re going to have to be doing,” said Matthew Lipton, a student in the scriptwriting program.

However, students and staff aren’t sitting idly by and have already started several initiatives to help cover the cost of the trip, including a comedy event.

“For us, we’re taking it more as we need to now work harder on our fundraising, which is why we’re launching the Gonq Show,” said Alex Madill, another student in the scriptwriting program.

The Gonq Show is scheduled for Dec. 13, a GoFundMe is being set up for those that wish to donate.