Reduction of seats in Council
The Post-Graduate Students’ Society of McGill University (PGSS) has reduced the number of seats in its Council from 131 to approximately 80. The reduction maintains the proportions currently set in place for each individual Post-Graduate Student Association (PGSA), with rounding done to the nearest integer.
“We conducted a very extensive survey, where we looked at other student associations and how big their councils were and we found that ours was really oversized,” PGSS Secretary-General Jonathan Mooney said.
William Farrell, a masters student in Engineering, said he agrees that the Council is oversized.
“To give you a perspective, the United States Senate has 100 people to make decisions; Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) has some 40 representatives to deal with 25,000 students,” he said. “I think that this [smaller] size would be much more ideal for Council and allow things to run smoothly without taking anything away.”
A student, who could not be identified, said he disagreed with the spirit of the motion because it would limit the perspectives that Council could hear and opportunities for students.
“This Council is a good place to train people for taking part in other committees and societies in our careers and I think the more people we train here the better,” he said.
Brittany Rocque, a member of PGSS’s Policy and Structure Advisory Committee, expressed support for the motion.
“We don’t think we’re going to be missing out if we cut down in size,” Roque said. “We will be adding an efficiency component, and when a group is smaller, individuals feel a little bit more accountable, because they’re a little bit more significant.”
This change will take effective immediately, which means that some councilors will have to lose their seats.
“PGSS leaves the choice regarding how the change will be implemented to the individual PGSA’s,” Rocque said. “Some seats are not currently filled and will be easy to remove […] and if there are multiple individuals who very much want to be on council and would not want to step down, ‘seat sharing’ or an appropriate transition period could be implemented.”
Motion regarding Quebec Charter of Values
The Council also passed a motion to oppose the Parti Québécois’s (PQ) proposal to ban public sector workers from wearing conspicuous religious symbols.
“We don’t think it’s the government’s role to manipulate people’s lives to a level where a way of life they’ve chosen, how they want to be represented, how they want to look in public is going to be taken over by government regulation that doesn’t apply throughout the board,” said Michael Krause, Internal Affairs Officer.
According to the motion, PGSS will send a letter to Premier Pauline Marois denouncing the proposed ban, and also notify PGSS members of any upcoming demonstrations against the ban.
Extend Medicare for International Students
Council also passed a motion to support the extending Medicare to cover international students. Currently, only Quebec and out-of-province Canadians are eligible for Medicare. This leads to healthcare costs upwards of three times that of the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ), the health insurance system in Quebec. While PGSS does not have the power to cover students, the motion will allow them to publically support policy that will allow international students to be covered.
“The idea is that this would create better, more equitable solutions for international students. It would mean that they aren’t being charged differential fees for the same services, and it would not mean that they would be incurring extremely high financial burdens just to have their families here in Canada,” Mooney said.
The motion passed with overwhelming support.