Editorial, Opinion

PGSS Winter 2020 Referendum Endorsements

The McGill Tribune presents its endorsements for the Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) Winter 2020 Referendum period.

1) PGSS Keep.meSafe Fee: Yes

The Keep.meSafe Fee proposes to establish a nonopt-outable $2.75 semesterly fee from Fall 2020 to Winter 2024. This fee will provide all PGSS students, at no additional cost, with access to Keep.meSafe, a mental health service that includes access to in-person counselling, secure clinical mobile communication, and  telephone and video chat. Keep.meSafe’s highlights include minimal wait times, a diverse assortment of counsellors who can be matched with students’ unique lived experiences, and services in over 60 languages. With extensive concerns over long wait times and breaches of personal privacy at the Wellness Hub, Keep.meSafe promises to meet the needs of graduate students by providing 24/7 access to mental healthcare. Given this need, and the fact that a vote against the fee would result in the program’s termination, The Tribune endorses a ‘Yes’ vote to the Keep.meSafe Fee. 

2) PGSS Health and Dental Insurance Plan: Yes

The PGSS Health and Dental Insurance referendum question proposes the creation of a two-tiered model with basic and enhanced plans. Members will automatically be enrolled in the new enhanced plans for both health and dental. The health plan will increase vaccination coverage to $300, health practitioner coverage to $40/visit, and mental health coverage to 50 per cent per visit up to $1000. The dental plan will increase overall coverage to a maximum of $800. Members can also opt out of the enhanced plans and into the basic plans.

The Tribune endorses a ‘Yes’ vote, yo the comprehensive nature of the plan and the ability for PGSS members to choose their desired options at two levels. 

3) PGSS Daycare Fee: Yes

The SSMU Daycare was created in 1999 to support students, staff, faculty and other members of the McGill community who are parents/guardians. A nursery was opened in 2009 for children aged 4 – 18 months. Partially funded by the government, the SSMU Daycare costs $7 per child per day for parents and has an accessible location in the Brown building. The PGSS hopes to establish a nonopt-outable PGSS Daycare Fee of $3 per student per semester to guarantee 8 of the 32 daycare spots and 2 of the 8 Nursery spots for PGSS students. The fee will start in the Fall 2020 semester and end after the Winter 2025 semester. The Tribune endorses a ‘Yes’ vote to provide the daycare with more support, as it is an indispensable resource on campus. 

4) PGSS Library Improvement Fund Fee: Yes

Prior to Winter 2017, PGSS collected a $3 Library Improvement Fund (LIF) fee, with McGill matching PGSS’s contribution each semester. However, this led to an excess of available funds, which proved problematic for PGSS’s non-profit status. Now that PGSS’s LIF funds have been depleted, the organization is proposing to renew the fee, which has not been collected in recent years, at a lower rate of $2 per semester. Maintaining high quality study spaces on campus is an essential undertaking for any student organization, and the Tribune endorses a ‘Yes’ vote on reinstating the LIF fee.

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