Hello APSA members,
We are pleased to announce the official ratification of our memorandum of agreement with SFU. Many of you have asked questions during the information sessions or by email to the APSA office staff. Here are some frequently asked questions.
Compassionate and Personal Leave With Pay
How is this different from Vacation or Sick days?
There were always two personal days available to APSA members for an emergency or personal situation. However, it was up to the supervisor to grant this time. This leave has now expanded so employees can access it up to two weeks in advance for their personal needs, such as supporting dependents going into day surgeries or doctor’s appointments, weddings, moving days, etc. This doesn’t mean that the leave cannot cover emergencies, but if feasible, a request made in advance can give a manager time to cover these days.
Is this improvement retroactive?
Unfortunately, the improvement in Professional Development Reimbursement is on a go-forward basis. So, members hired after the date of ratification will receive their PD Reimbursement allotment by January 1, 2024.
When do the bi-weekly top-up amounts begin when taking maternity leave?
This positive change for members takes effect on January 1, 2024. So, members who take maternity or parental leave on or after January 1, 2024, will receive the bi-weekly top-ups.
Sustainable Transportation Allowance
What is it?
The Sustainable Transportation Allowance is money SFU gave to offset the expense of commuting to campus and supplement the cost of any alternate form of transportation. They offered this money for continuing employees, prorating it for part-time employees subject to the usual statutory deductions.
Do I need to apply for a reimbursement?
You do not need to apply for any reimbursement to receive this money.
Is this ongoing money or one-time money?
This is one-time money only and will be added to your paycheque.
Health Spending Account
What is it?
The Health Spending Account will act as a supplement for any ongoing Pacific Blue Cross costs.
Anyone receiving APSA Extended Health benefits can access the Health Spending Account.
What can I spend this money on?
Any item or service allowed under the Income Tax Act of Canada is eligible.
An example is if you must go to a podiatrist. The current plan only covers $200 annually. If you need more podiatry visits, you can access your Health Spending Account to offset these costs. Other expenses include laser eye surgery, epipens, wigs and assisted breathing devices.
Here’s a good FAQ from Pacific Blue Cross with more detailed answers to this question.
When can I expect this benefit to take effect?
The Memorandum of Agreement says benefits take effect on the third month after ratification, so this will be on December 1 of this year.
Indigenous Cultural Leave
Can you explain the rationale behind having Indigenous Cultural leave and not including leaves for other cultures?
There are many reasons why the Board of Directors and the Salary and Benefits Committee approved proposing Indigenous Cultural leave. Here are just a few:
SFU is beginning to implement our commitment to Truth and Reconciliation, Canada’s agreement to the UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People, British Columbia’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, and other significant frameworks.
This improvement begins to solve an equity issue, as Indigenous members have cultural practices significantly different from existing statutory holidays.
As part of our original bargaining survey, 28% of our members thought leave for cultural practices was among the top 4 improvements needed for leaves with and without pay. During negotiations, incremental changes are how we can achieve this.
Many other Universities throughout BC have set a precedent for their Indigenous staff, including UBC, UVic and others. Internal SFU employee groups also have been granted this leave. One of our bargaining goals is to achieve benefits which other comparable employee organizations already have.
We hope this answers some of the questions you may still have on this MoA. Please contact APSA if you have any other questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.