Each month, your Advocacy Committee answers your questions about the AD 10 policies (aka, your terms and conditions of employment.)

Angela VassHello, I’m Angela Vass, Senior Labour Relations Officer for APSA. On behalf of your Advocacy Committee, I’m answering your questions about elective surgeries and sick leave.

Questions? Submit them anonymously here. This question will be answered in a monthly advocacy corner issue. For an immediate answer, please contact us.


I have to have an elective surgery at the hospital. It’s not cosmetic or dental surgery. Do I have to take vacation days, or is this covered under sick leave?

An elective surgery is a surgery that can be scheduled in advance and can be done safely at a later time. The other type of surgery is emergency surgery, which is unscheduled and must be done immediately.

Calling a surgery “elective” sounds like it’s optional, but that’s not the case. Essential medical procedures are also called “elective” or “scheduled,” including surgeries for cancer patients and heart surgery.

A good rule of thumb is that if it’s covered under MSP (i.e. you don’t have to pay for the medical surgery), it can be taken as sick leave. The situation you describe sounds like you would be covered by sick leave. I’d recommend speaking to APSA about dental or cosmetic surgery if either of these is upcoming for you. 

Your doctor will recommend the amount of recovery time needed for the surgery, which can also be conveyed to your supervisor via the Organizational Health office in Human Resources. If your surgery includes a hospital stay, Pacific Blue Cross covers private and semi-private hospital rooms for both acute and extended care during your stay.

If recovering from your procedure become a long-term issue, please speak to APSA so that we can support you if you need an extended medical leave. SFU’s procedures for sick leave for APSA members are also on the HR website.