SFUO cites legal worries for GA motions, inflation and administration fees for health plan

The last Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) Board of Administration (BOA) meeting of the 2016-17 academic year, which took place on April 26, saw several important developments.

SFUO reduces GA power

Two motions were brought forward to change the role of the SFUO’s General Assemblies (GA), the first of which dealt with the GA’s role in ratifying elections.

According to section 3.13.6 of the SFUO constitution, “Election results, when timelines allow, will be ratified at a General Assembly.” The motion at hand changed the section to read, “Elections results, when timelines allow, will be presented at a General Assembly.” This means that the GA will no longer have a role in ratifying the results of SFUO elections.

The motion passed.

The second GA-related motion would allow the board to overturn motions presented for the GA. It read: “All motions proposed at the General Assembly will be forwarded to the Board of Administration and can be reversed by a 2/3 vote.”

The board saw much debate over the percentage by which motions could be reversed, with some arguing it should be lower than two-thirds.

The motion ultimately did not pass. However, another iteration could come to the board in the future if members agree on a percentage.

These motions come on the heels of changes made to the GA’s role at the Nov. 6 meeting, where the BOA voted to remove section 3.13.4 from the constitution, which stated that the assembly was the highest decision-making body of the student federation.

The second proposed change was in regards to section 3.13.10.4 of the constitution, which presently reads, “All amendments to SFUO by-laws or policies will require two-thirds (2/3) of votes cast (at the GA) in order to be successful.”

If changed, this section would read, “All amendments to the SFUO by-laws or policies that receive 2/3 support of the General Assembly will require ratification by 2/3 of the directors at the Board of Administration in order to be successful.”This means that all policy and bylaw decisions made at the GA must now be ratified by the board.

Both of these motions were heavily debated, but both passed.

In a statement to the Fulcrum from the SFUO, delivered by Kathryn LeBlanc, the 2017-18 SFUO vice-president of services and communications, said that all changes stem from a Corporate Maintenance Report, which suggested altering the format of the GA to avoid any legal liability. The report was provided to the SFUO by the Dabrowski Therrien law firm.

According to the statement, “the SFUO is constantly reviewing its governance structure in order to be compliant with all relevant legislation, including but not limited to the Ontario Corporation Act (OCA) and the Ontario Non-for-profit Corporation Act (ONCA).”

Health plan premiums increase by eight per cent

The April 26 meeting also saw a vote by the board to increase health plan premiums by eight per cent, the maximum allowable increase.

The motion read:

“WHEREAS the February 2016 referendum allows us to increase the premiums up to 8%

WHEREAS health insurance premiums have not kept pace with the growth rate of inflation

WHEREAS Greenshield supplier increases rates by approximately 4% next year

WHEREAS the SFUO must cover the administrative costs of the health insurance plan

WHEREAS current premiums are not sufficient to adjust our current financial situation

Be it resolved that the premiums of the health insurance plan increase by 8% for the year 2017-2018.”

A statement to the Fulcrum from the SFUO executive, relayed by LeBlanc, reads: “This year, the health plan requires the full increase of 8%. This is due to the inflation rate, Greenshield’s renewal rates, and an increase in operating costs.”

“The health plan premiums will not always increase by 8% every year. The SFUO remains dedicated to keeping the cost of the health plan as low as possible,” the statement continued.

After the health plan had caused significant strains on the budget, the SFUO put forward two referendum questions to increase premiums. The first, in October 2015, failed, but the second, in February 2016, passed.

As no media were present at the April 26 meeting, the Fulcrum has reconstructed the events that transpired based on testimonies by members of the SFUO executive, outgoing Faculty of Engineering representative Jeffry Colin, and confirmed with sources that have chosen to remain anonymous.

The Fulcrum also requested the minutes of the meeting from the SFUO, but was told they were not yet available. The minutes of the April 26 meeting have not yet been made public as of the date of this publication.