The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) held its most recent Board of Directors (BOD) meeting on February 26. Topics of discussion included a new housing initiative, committee membership, psychotherapy funding, and the union’s finances.
Out of the 20 board members and executives who currently hold positions, 11 were in attendance.
Victoria Liu, vice president public and university affairs, announced the implementation of the Community Housing and Employment Service Support (CHESS) after 58 per cent of the student body voted to ratify it in the spring 2023 election.
Starting next year, all U of T students will pay a mandatory $4.00 fee for the program. The UTSU Executive Committee Report reads that the UTSU team will “build a pilot that will be ready to launch as soon as possible.”
Director Rayan Alim, who represents St. Michael’s College, spoke on UTSU-provided mental health coverage, with a focus on changing the 15-session limit for psychotherapy.
Currently, students are eligible for $1,500 of psychotherapy coverage that can be spent over a maximum of 15 sessions, which Alim said was “a good start.” She added that “there’s a bit of limitation there, which we are positioned to address.” Alim noted that students who visit practitioners that cost less than $100 spend less money than this plan makes available to them, yet they have to pay out of pocket for additional visits.
Dermot O’Halloran, vice-president operations, explained that “the 15 sessions at $100 a session is something that was criticized when that decision was made,” during the 2018–2019 academic year. The UTSU plan previously covered 20 sessions at $125 a session, but, according to O’Halloran, “it quickly created a situation where the UTSU was liable to be bankrupted by the plan.” In an email to The Varsity, O’Halloran wrote, “Private claims for psychotherapy are indeed one of our most used services on the health and dental plan.”
Review of the past year
O’Halloran reported on the inefficacy of UTSU committees despite new governance bylaws, saying they “have basically been dead this year in our organization.”
O’Halloran also presented the UTSU’s Quarter Three Profit and Loss Statement, which accounted for finances from May 2022 to January 2023, saying, “the costs for the most part were in the normal range for where we would be.”
From May 2022 to January 2023, the UTSU spent 74.31 per cent of the $3,325,292.46 that it planned to spend for the school year. This includes 72.15 per cent of the $1,898,154.54 budgeted for staff remunerations and 85.69 per cent of the $30,000 budgeted for meetings, which “[increased] as result of COVID re-opening,” according to the budget.
Thus far, the UTSU has earned more than it expected on interest from reserve funds, such as that from its guaranteed investment certificates. The UTSU earned 149.81 per cent of its predicted $160,000 earnings.