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UTGSU March council meeting approves levy fee increases, retroactive executive payments

Annual increases to health, dental plans fees passed with additional benefits
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The executives also provided retroactive payments to one current executive and one past executive. GABRIEL CARTER/THE VARSITY
The executives also provided retroactive payments to one current executive and one past executive. GABRIEL CARTER/THE VARSITY

The University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) General Council met on March 30 to approve levy fee increases for the 2022 fiscal year. The executives also provided updates to the health and dental plans, and retroactive payments to one current executive and one past executive. 

Executive reports 

University Governance Commissioner Lwanga Musisi spoke about his recent efforts to work with the university to revise the university-mandated leave of absence policy. Finance Commissioner An-Noûra Compaoré reported that she has been working on the spring 2021 conference bursary, and Academics and Funding Commissioner Divisions 3 & 4 June Li updated the council on her work for the UTGSU’s basic funding initiative

Civics and Environment Commissioner Danielle Karakas reported that she has been advocating for affordable student housing, and she has been working toward officializing a partnership between the UTGSU and the UofT Emergency Food Bank. 

As the chair of the Equity and Advocacy committee, External Commissioner Jacqui Spencer reported that the committee “strongly suggested” that the UTGSU hire an equity officer. Spencer added that the committee has pushed for the UTGSU executives to participate in antisemitism training, and that she coordinated the training for the executive team. 

Other executives did not give reports orally at the council meeting, but submitted written reports instead. Academics and Funding Commissioner Divisions 1 & 2 Dhanela Sivaparan wrote that she has helped graduate students seek extended tuition relief due to COVID-19. 

Levy fee increases

The council then passed a motion approving a 0.7 per cent cost of living increase of the UTGSU levy fee, paid by student members, for the 2022 fiscal year. This fee, which will increase to $64.65, will be collected in two equal sessional amounts. The increase was passed as an omnibus motion and will apply to four levy groups: Bikechain, the Sexual Education Centre, and the Canadian Federation of Students on both the federal and provincial levels. 

The council also approved a four per cent fee increase to the UTGSU health plan. This fee will be collected in two equal sessional amounts. 

According to UTGSU Health Plan Administrator Shain Abdulla, this increase will offer students access to more benefits, which will come into effect on September 1. These benefits will include enhanced student travel insurance for COVID-19, the addition of occupational therapy, and a new mental health tool called “Empower Me.” 

The council also passed a motion to increase the dental plan fees by three per cent, which will increase the fee to $255.10 for the year. 

Executive honorarium retroactive payment

The council members passed two motions about retroactively paying executives, which were both vocally supported by several council members. 

The first motion dictated that the full finance commissioner honorarium from May 1 to November 15 be paid to Musisi for taking on the duties of the finance commissioner during that time. 

The passing of this motion rectifies past controversy about the executives voting to backpay Musisi without consulting the council. 

“[Musisi] as finance commissioner went above and beyond,” said Li. “I think it’s time that we properly compensate [him].” 

The next motion dedicated that former Executive Member-at-Large Mateja Perovic receive finance commissioner honorarium for April 2020, when she took on the duties of finance commissioner. 

Council member Juliana Adema spoke in support of this motion. “In the spirit of paying people for their work, I think that [Perovic] should be given the finance commissioner honorarium for that month that she did those jobs,” Adema said. 

The council then discussed an item regarding member misconduct in camera, meaning non-members were excluded from the discussion. In an email to The Varsity, the executives later wrote that “a reprimand was brought forward for a member and they will be reprimanded according to UTGSU Bylaw.”