The Stress We Feel Right Now
December 5, 2023
I had hoped to write an end-of-year message under better University circumstances. After all, as I wrote in our Annual Report, we had a very successful round of bargaining this year, perhaps the best collective agreement we’ve had in over two decades. We owed so much of that success to the collective efforts of our bargaining team, our volunteers, and members like you, who continue to stand behind us.
Unfortunately, the shifting goalposts of the University’s fiscal woes aren’t raising campus spirit, especially after a difficult labour dispute on campus. In recent weeks, we’ve heard of hiring freezes and budget shortfalls alleged to be in the range of $50 million. When we have more solid financial numbers from the University, we’ll have more to report to you in the New Year about the state of SFU’s budget.
Yes, there’s uncertainty in the campus air right now. As one APSA member said to me, “There’s a real anxiety across the University—all of us are feeling it. What am I going to do, Andrew? How am I going to cope?”
As I let this member know when I helped her through her particular circumstances, I want to remind you, first of all, that my team and I are here to support you and advocate for you. It’s our job to do so. If you’re worried or facing a difficult work situation, you can meet with us in complete confidentiality. And, to further reassure you, we don’t act on anything you tell us without your express consent.
There are many tools we suggest to members to assist them during such stressful work times. There’s the Employment Family Assistance Program (EFAP), which is available to you as part of your benefits. There’s access to psychologists and registered clinical counselors to the tune of $2000 in coverage through your Pacific Blue Cross Benefits. If you find yourself very stressed or facing other difficulties that impact your health, whether physical or mental, we can also advise you on how to work with your doctor to take medical leave.
There’s no shame in using any of these benefits. When I worked for the University, I used EFAP extensively to support me through my own difficulties (the counselor I saw was very helpful). Many years ago, faced with difficult family circumstances that compromised my health, I also stepped away from work for a while on medical leave. To further reassure you, accessing services such as EFAP or a registered clinical counselor are completely confidential, and your information is never shared with the University.
Again, we’re here to help you as you need. Take care always.