The Quality Services to Students (QSS) committee met on December 11, 2019 to review operational highlights and budget reports for the current academic year and the proposals for 2020-2021.

The Health and Counselling Centre (HCC) was the first department to present its management and budget report.

“Mental health is obviously at the top of everybody’s mind,” said HCC medical director Erin Kraftcheck.

Across all the services offered by the HCC, there has been an increase for mental health support. Forty per cent of all appointments made through the clinic are related to mental health.

“This is up from 35 per cent last year and 25 per cent [from] the year before that,” explained Kraftcheck.

“I just wanted to highlight that one of the specific requests by students was for increased access to personal counseling, as well as greater access to our services and supports outside of the physical clinic location,” continued Kraftcheck.

“And so, what we were able to do through the process is hire a full-time counselor, who we have located over in [Maanjiwe Nendamowinan] and it’s offered as an option to all students who contact the Health and Counseling Centre based on availability.”

The HCC is proposing a 16.5 per cent increase in mandatory student service fees for the 2020-2021 academic year ($8.37 per semester, $16.74 per year), setting the annual student fee for full-time students at $117.88.

This is a significant increase, especially when compared to the proposals of the other departments, which mostly presented fee increases ranging from zero to five per cent.

“Our main focus in the proposal for 2021 is to add two additional full-time counselors to the Health and Counselling Centre, and we’d like to continue the support of our outreach and educational promotional efforts,” said Kraftcheck.

This focus is projected onto the budget proposal as a $368,535 increase in salary, wages, and benefit expenditures, while the budgeting for programs and outreach remains the same as 2019-2020, which has decreased by $3,175 since the 2018-2019 academic year.

The priorities of the Department of Recreation, Athletics, and Wellness Centre (RAWC) for the next year will focus on continuing their existing initiatives.

“This includes a continuous review of programming activities and the facility in an effort to provide varied opportunities of physical activity,” said Sonia Borg, director of RAWC’s Finance and Operations.

 “The great news is that since the department has grown we will also be in a position to hire additional staff to support things like the summer camps, aquatics certification courses that will be offered regularly, and we’ll be adding to our communications and programming staff to support our sport and outreach activities,” continued Borg.

Borg adds that the RAWC budget “includes increasing salaries for our staff as provided in the collective agreements.”

The athletics department is also proposing a one per cent increase in mandatory student service fees for the upcoming academic year ($2.04 per semester, $4.08 per year), amounting to an annual payment of $411.76 for full-time students.

 The Career Centre has also increased its available services and offerings in the past few years.

According to Career Centre director Felicity Morgan, in the 2018-2019 academic year 10,985 students took part in services provided by the centre. This number however does not include participants of events where student identification wasn’t required, suggesting that the number of students using the centre’s services is much higher than recorded.

The Career Centre’s focus for the next year revolves around advisory group discussions and student feedback.

“There was a great discussion about how to make things as clear as possible,” said Morgan. “So, we’ll work on highlighting and enhancing our step by step materials on the Career Centre website, like how exactly do you do the thing that we’re telling you to do?”

For the 2020-2021 academic year, the Career Centre is proposing an increase of over four per cent ($3.17 per semester, $6.34 per year), which equates to $149.40 for full-time students.

The Student Life Initiatives within the Centre for Student Engagement proposed an increase of five percent, while both the International Education Centre and the Family Care Office anticipate no change to their student services fees for the upcoming year.

The committee will be voting on the budget reports in the next QSS committee meeting on January 15.

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