On February 2, 2016, Students’ Council voted 20-8 in favour of a proposal to raise the Students’ Union Membership Fee in incremental amounts over the next three years. In addition to CPI adjustments, full-time students will see a per-term increase of $3.00 in 2016-17, $3.25 in 2017-18, and $3.50 in 2018-19. This proposal came to Council as a direct result of the anticipated increase of the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2018 put forth by the Alberta Government.
The fee increase, brought forward by Vice President (Operations & Finance) Cody Bondarchuk, will cover roughly 60 per cent of the revenue needed to fund the minimum wage increase, with the other 40 per cent coming from department efficiencies and moderate increases to prices across the SU’s businesses. “We will be seeing an increase in excess of $1 million by 2018 to our operating budget, so our options were to boost revenue through a combination of the fee increase and raising prices, or by making significant cuts to existing programs essential to undergraduate students,” Bondarchuk said, expanding on a letter to Council released ahead of the vote.
The Students’ Union currently employs approximately 300 staff, 65 per cent of whom currently make less than $15 per hour. All changes to student fees imposed by the Students’ Union are passed through a vote by elected representatives. After consulting Finance Committee and the General Manager, Bondarchuk and President Navneet Khinda brought the motion to Council for debate.
“Any time we make a financial decision, especially one that requires students to pay more, it is always taken very seriously,” Khinda said. “It's important the SU stays ahead of the curve and responds to the signals government sends us, and this means increasing wages for a majority of our 300 staff. I sincerely believe students find value in our services, so it's important we do what we can to maintain them at current levels.”
The SU is the official body that represents the nearly 30,000 undergraduate students at the University of Alberta. It acts as a strong advocate for students both on campus and at all levels of government.
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