Between the Motions//

Between the Motions: Council approves $17 health and dental fee increase during in-camera session

Councillors approved a fee increase for the AMS/GSS Health & Dental Plan and code changes during last night’s AMS Council meeting.

Here’s what you might have missed.

Council approves Health and Dental fee behind closed doors

Following a 30-minute in-camera (private) discussion, councillors approved a five per cent increase to the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan.

Students currently pay $338 for the plan as part of their student fees in their tuition. The approved five per cent increase would up the fee by $16.90 to around $355.

AMS President Ben Du shared the motion with The Ubyssey in an email following the discussion and vote.

According to the motion, the five per cent increase was proposed based on early projections that “premiums are set to increase by $15.”

Any health and dental fee increase up to five per cent can be approved by a two-thirds of AMS Council. The vote tally on last night’s motion was not shared.

The in-camera session also included discussion of an amendment to the AMS/GSS Extended Health and Dental Plan Administration Agreement — which passed along with the fee increase.

Code changes a-plenty

Councillors also approved several code changes.

One change will allow the AMS to draw from the $90,000 Elections and Lobbying Funding Formula (ELF) to offset the society’s deficit.

According to Du, who brought forward the motion on behalf of the Executive Committee, the ELF was created following a 1996 AMS referendum to support the AMS’s government lobbying efforts but has since become dormant.

“As we use the funds over the next three years, we will reach a relatively sustainable replenishment rate after the third year of implementation,” Du added.

The original motion stated that the $90,000 cannot be used for executive salaries or benefits, and an approved amendment added that it cannot be used for honoraria as well.

Following a brief discussion, the motion passed unanimously.

Another code change grants the Human Resources (HR) Committee power to approve changes to the AMS personnel handbook — which hasn’t been updated since 2011.

During a student-at-large statement earlier in the meeting, Brandyn Marx, a fourth-year psychology student and AMS student staff member, expressed concern that moving approval authority from Council to committee would reduce transparency.

“There's so little engagement and cooperation with people that work here. So if they don't know about it, it might as well be behind closed doors and that's what I'm concerned about,” said Marx.

Salva Sherif, chair of the HR Committee, said that committee meetings are open to the public and that concerned staff could request to attend one.

Du, ahead of the vote on the motion, added that the changes were not intended to hide future handbook changes, but instead to make updating the document more efficient as getting Council approval takes time.

“These personnel handbooks topics, like personal protective equipment … like shift change requests, shouldn't be reaching Council as the highest governing body of the AMS. We have committees to handle medium level items, and I would classify handbooks as medium level,” Du said.

This motion also passed unanimously.

Senior Staff Writer

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