Presidential candidate and members of the health plan referendum “yes” committe speak at a debate during the by-election. Photo: Eric Davidson
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Second election called to vote in SFUO president

The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) has called a second election in a matter of weeks, to decide whether sole presidential candidate Anne-Emilie Hebert* will be elected. The by-election will be held Nov. 9 and 10.

“Why another election??” reads the event description on the SFUO’s Facebook Page, “Because, we did not hold a “yes/no” vote for the President position in the last election, due to an error in the updated version of the Constitution. Therefore, the election being held on Monday and Tuesday will rectifying this error.”

The SFUO has also released the official results for the vice-president finance and vice-president of services and communications positions, and have posted unofficial results for the healthcare referendum on their Facebook page.

Hebert, who ran unopposed, confirmed the second election, but did not wish to comment on the reason for it.

Roméo Ahimakin was elected as vice-president of services and communications, with 1,012 votes compared to 272 for Melanie Malo and 208 for CT Larochelle. Ahimakin campaigned on making the SFUO’s services more visible to students, and wants to find ways to connect students and the SFUO, including an app.

“I’ll keep doing the work I started, I’ll keep bringing forward more visibility for the services,” he said.

Camelia Touzany was elected to be the new vice-president of finance with 1,106 votes, while Nick Robinson got 329. Touzany campaigned on making the budget transparent and making online procedures like club registration easier.

“My job will be to ensure a balanced budget that truly reflects the needs of students, and most importantly that the services and projects that students care about are prioritized,” she told the Fulcrum in a previous interview.

Both Ahimakin and Touzany ran on the “By your Side” slate.

A few days after the elections results were released, the SFUO announced unofficially on their Facebook page that the healthcare referendum was defeated with 801 “no” votes and 737 “yes” votes. The SFUO has not yet updated their website with official results.

“I strongly believe that most of those who voted ‘no’ did so based on a lack of information,” said Siavash Ghazvinian of the referendum’s “yes” committee.

He said that students “saw an increase of $35 to their fees and voted no because they did not know the benefits of voting yes versus the harms of voting no.”

According to Ahimakin, the SFUO will discuss the plan with the school’s health care provider, Green Shield. “Before we do that, we’re going to consult with the students… so that we can come out with the best package that is realistic and sustainable,” he said.

Ahimakin said that the SFUO will continue to provide information to students on the health care plan. “Possibly in the future we can have the referendum question presented again,” he said.

The proposed healthcare plan would have cost those who opted-in an extra $35, and the Board of Administration (BOA) would’ve been able to increase it by up to eight per cent per year to adjust to inflation.

The SFUO had been previously subsidizing the health plan through the general fund, which all U of O students pay into.

“The actual cost of the health plan to the SFUO has increased, so they have had to supplement it out of the general fund more and more,” said Veronica Carpani, an engineering student representative on the BOA in a previous edition of the Fulcrum.

“The health plan is currently underfunded, and will have to be eliminated or undergo major cuts,” said Ashley Reyns, a volunteer on the “yes” campaign, in a video on the group’s website. She said that the new healthcare plan would “avoid reductions or elimination in services in pharmacare, contraceptive care, eye care, and many others.”

Ghazvinian also noted that even after the proposed price increase—from $180 to $215 per year—the health care plan would have been the second cheapest university plan in the province, after Guelph, which charges $171 per year, and significantly cheaper than Algoma, which charges $425 per year.

The changes to the health plan will be felt next September, when the plan is renewed.

“I don’t know what the future of the health plan will be for students, but I am holding out hope that some action can be taken this Winter to save the health plan,” said Ghazvinian.

*In a previous edition of the Fulcrum  we wrote, “In the SFUO  by-election, Anne-Emilie Hebert, who ran unopposed, was named president.” Anne-Emilie Hebert was not named president on either the SFUO website or Facebook Page. She is running in a secondary “yes/no” election on Nov. 9 and 10. We sincerely regret the error.