The answer to a specific question may be sought by UMSU by way of referendum enacted by a secret ballot cast of UMSU members. A referendum may only be held regarding matters which are not under the purview of UMSU’s governing bodies. On April 7-9, 2021, UMSU will be holding a referendum for the following topics:
  • StudentCare’s Legal Protection Program
  • MAPSS (Manitoba Alliance of Post-Secondary Students)
  • CASA (Canadian Alliance of Student Associations)
  • U-Pass Program
This page contains information that will help students make an informed decision for each referendum topic during the voting dates. Any questions regarding the referendum can be directed to cro@umsu.ca.
Referendum_Enews

Referendum Question 1

“Do you agree that UMSU should offer StudentCare’s Legal Protection Program for a $28.00 per student fee that can be opted out of?”

WHY IS THIS INCLUDED IN THE REFERENDUM?

UMSU has identified a need for legal assistance for its members due to the fact that currently available legal aid resources for students are often expensive, inaccessible, or inadequate, and students face complex challenges in their day-to-day lives. In the evaluation of the feasibility of a Legal Protection Program, UMSU surveyed the membership in January 2021 and gathered that 79% of respondents felt that it is either extremely important or very important for students to have easy access to legal advice and services. The StudentCare Legal Protection Program would offer students unlimited access to a Legal Helpline for questions on any area of the law, including but not limited to Immigration Law queries for international students. It would also offer unlimited access to legal representation for housing, employment, and academic disputes where legal representation services would apply until the case is resolved, even after a student finishes their studies. In order for UMSU to offer this program, a fee of $28.00 would need to be charged to every student for full-year access (September to August), however, this fee is fully opt-outable and the opt-out procedure will be overseen through StudentCare in a process similar to the UMSU Health and Dental Insurance change-of-coverage period.

WHY A STUDENT LEGAL PROTECTION PROGRAM?

Seeking professional legal counsel can be intimidating, especially if it’s the first time you’re facing a legal issue, and legal resources aren’t always easily accessible or affordable for students. The Legal Protection Program would offer unlimited access to legal advice on any area of law and financially accessible legal assistance, and would give students the confidence to pursue action with the support of a team of legal experts on cases related to employment, housing, and academic disputes.

WHAT WOULD THE PROGRAM OFFER?

A lawyer would take charge of proceedings related to the following areas of law:

  1. Housing Dispute
    Legal expenses arising from a dispute over a housing lease, such as a disputed rent increase, an illegal eviction, or a breach of a condition in the lease.

  2. Employment Dispute
    Legal expenses arising from a dispute with a current or future employment contract, with respect to labour standards for grievances not covered by a union or government agency. This does not include occupational health and safety issues.

  3. Dispute with an Academic Institution
    A student’s legal expenses in the event of a dispute with an academic institution. This excludes cases related to sexual misconduct or a criminal act.

Legal representation would include: Lawyers’ fees, legal expenses such as court fees, attendance fees, and witness expenses

Note: Experts’ fees are covered up to a maximum of $1,000 per policy year.

WHAT ELSE WOULD BE INCLUDED?

Students would also have access to expert advice on any legal situation via a convenient toll-free legal helpline.

WHAT KINDS OF QUESTIONS WOULD THE HELPLINE TAKE?

Any and all questions on any and all areas of law! This would include topics such as immigration or even speeding.

HOW MUCH WOULD IT COST?

Starting in fall 2021, fees for the 2021-2022 policy year would be:

– $28.00 for access from September to August
– $18.67 for access from January to August (for students beginning their studies in January)

COULD I OPT OUT?

Yes, the Legal Protection Program would be designed to allow students to opt out and receive a full refund of the fee. The process would be similar to what is currently in place for the UMSU Health & Dental Plan Change-of-Coverage Period.

COULD I CHOOSE MY OWN LEGAL REPRESENTATION?

Under the Legal Protection Program, legal costs incurred by students could only be claimed when using the lawyers assigned to them through the Program. If a student chose to use a different lawyer, their claim would not be reimbursed.

WOULD ALL SUBMITTED CASES BE ACCEPTED?

Only cases that fall within the areas outlined in the Program’s policy and that are deemed to have reasonable prospects for success would be eligible. Also, Legal Protection Program services would not apply to an ongoing case that began prior to the Program coming into effect.

Referendum Question 2

“Do you agree that UMSU should formally join The Manitoba Alliance of Post-Secondary Students (MAPSS) at no additional cost per student?”

WHY IS THIS INCLUDED IN THE REFERENDUM?

The UMSU Board of Directors recently failed to reaffirm its membership with the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) for the second time in four years, thereby mandating that the UMSU Executive take steps to leave the CFS. While this would require a referendum all its own, and although UMSU continues to contribute to CFS meetings so long as we remain members, part of this process involves exploring effective alternatives to provincial and federal advocacy. The Manitoba Alliance of Post-Secondary Students (MAPSS) is a newly formed provincial advocacy organization who advocates on behalf of post-secondary students to the provincial government, whose mission is “to improve the accessibility, affordability, and quality of post-secondary education in Manitoba, and ensure all students receive fair and equitable treatment,” MAPSS conducts research on issues concerning post-secondary students in Manitoba; organizes provincial advocacy campaigns; develops policy briefs and formulates recommendations for presentation to MLAs; and strives to include Indigenization and a broader equity-based lens in its approaches.

WHAT IS MAPSS?

The Manitoba Alliance of Post-Secondary Students is a partnership amplifying +61,000 student voices to government. MAPSS’ mission is to improve the accessibility, affordability, and quality of post-secondary education in Manitoba, and ensure all students receive fair and equitable treatment. MAPSS will fulfil its mission by advocating the Provincial Government and other relevant stakeholders by:

 

– Conducting research on issues concerning post-secondary students in Manitoba, including consultation with students province-wide.
– Developing policy briefs, formulating recommendations, and delivering ideas in a manner that prioritizes healthy dialogue.
– Organizing provincial educational and advocacy campaigns.

 

MAPSS will strive to be the gold standard for collaborative, professional student advocacy in the province of Manitoba, becoming a key stakeholder in consultations that impact post-secondary students. MAPSS envisions a Manitoba where students are treated equitably, are provided numerous experiential learning opportunities, and experience barrier-free access to high-quality post-secondary education and supports.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF JOINING MAPSS?

– Engages in non-partisan, evidence-based lobbying, organizing Manitoba’s only provincial student lobby week.
– Proven capacity to engage students, media, and decision-makers through campaigns.
– New organization presents a clean slate and new relationship to government.
– Grassroots organizational structure allows for involvement from engaged students at large.

WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF JOINING MAPSS?

– MAPSS is young and requires further development of its internal governance structure.
– Shared decision making with other dissimilar schools (i.e. graduate students, college students) may require compromise from UMSU.

NEED MORE INFORMATION REGARDING MAPSS?

For more information regarding MAPSS, please visit their website which can be found here.

Referendum Question 3

“Do you agree that UMSU should formally join The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) at no additional cost per student?”

WHY IS THIS INCLUDED IN THE REFERENDUM?

The UMSU Board of Directors recently failed to reaffirm its membership with the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) for the second time in four years, thereby mandating that the UMSU Executive take steps to leave the CFS. While this would require a referendum all its own, and although UMSU continues to contribute to CFS meetings so long as we remain members, part of this process involves exploring effective alternatives to provincial and federal advocacy. The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) is a federal advocacy organization established in 1995 who advocates on behalf of post-secondary students to the federal government. CASA focuses exclusively on post-secondary and student related issues; remains a strictly non-partisan organization; is member-driven, with opportunities for all members to contribute to and be heard by the organization; and is easy to join and easy to leave.

WHAT IS CASA?

CASA is a national voice for Canada’s post-secondary students. Established in 1995, CASA is a non-partisan, not-for-profit student organization composed of student associations from across Canada. CASA represents undergraduate, graduate, and polytechnic associations. CASA is a member-driven organization, meaning that its members set the organization’s policy agenda and goals. CASA currently represents 23 members from post-secondary institutions across Canada, who represent 275,000 students. CASA is also a proud partner of the Quebec Student Union, who represent students in Quebec. Together, CASA represents over 365,000 students from coast to coast and presents a strong, united student voice to the federal government.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF JOINING CASA?

– Non-partisan, membership-driven organization.
– Significant research and government relations capacity through home office support.
– Robust advocacy campaigns and marketing materials.
– Effective and well-respected voice in the space of federal advocacy, engaging in evidence-based lobbying.

WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF JOINING CASA?

– Lacks some of UMSU’s major U15 counterparts, like the University of Toronto or the University of British Columbia.
– Shared decision making with other dissimilar schools (i.e. smaller universities, graduate students, college students) may require compromise from UMSU.

NEED MORE INFORMATION REGARDING CASA?

For more information regarding CASA, please visit their website which can be found here.

Referendum Question 4 (Non-binding Plebiscite)

“The current price of the U-Pass is $208 per semester (four months). In your opinion, should UMSU continue with the U-Pass program?”

WHY IS THIS INCLUDED IN THE REFERENDUM?

Last year UMSU ran a U-Pass referendum to approve a rate of $160.75 per term. The referendum passed with over 79% of respondents accepting the continuation of the U-Pass at the new rate. Following the referendum, the city of Winnipeg looked to cut the U-Pass. Following UMSU advocacy efforts directed to the city of Winnipeg to keep the U-Pass program, the city offered a new U-Pass rate of $208 per term. The UMSU board of directors approved this new rate in March 2020. Due to COVID-19 the U-Pass program was not offered for the 2020-2021 academic year. With there being more time to sign a new U-Pass contract, we have created a non-binding plebiscite question to gauge students desire for this new U-Pass rate. Currently, the alternative to the U-Pass program would be students purchasing the post-secondary semester pass which allows students to use transit for the same duration as the U-Pass program. The current price of a post-secondary semester pass is $283 with the benefit of it being optional rather than a mandatory fee to all students like the U-Pass.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF RENEWING THE U-PASS CONTRACT?

– Gives all students access to transportation to and from school as well as any other transportation needs.
– Promotes transit rider culture and encourages students to ride the bus instead of driving.
– $75 a semester cheaper than buying a post-secondary semester pass.

WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF RENEWING THE U-PASS CONTRACT?

– $71.75 per semester more expensive than the former U-Pass price.
– All students are assessed the fee whether they ride the bus or not, however, students living outside of transit service boundaries will still be able to opt out.
– Is it worth forcing a fee on all students for a saving of $75 per semester for some?

WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE IS NO LONGER A U-PASS PROGRAM?

Without the U-Pass program, students will still be able to purchase post-secondary semester passes for $283.

Note: There is currently no universal student spring/summer term pass.

NEED MORE INFORMATION REGARDING THE U-PASS PROGRAM?

For more information regarding the U-Pass Program, please visit our U-Pass page which can be found here.