February 2021
  • President's Update
  • Treasurer's Report
  • Committee Updates

  • MRSA Office Closure Notice
  • MRSA Events
  • General Announcements

President's Update 

Welcome to February, the month of hearts and chocolate. I'm hoping you receive lots of both because we sure deserve it after enduring such a difficult year (almost).

We had a great turn out for our January coffee chat, with about 65 staff attending. While the Executive planned to discuss some serious association business regarding voting quorum and a possible new membership model, we realized there was more work to do on this before we presented it to the membership. So we opened it up to you for conversation and here are a few highlights from the meeting:

Working from out of province
A number of staff asked about the option to continue working remotely outside of Alberta, as some have vacation homes in BC and some want to visit with family in another province. Last August we received a communication from Trika Macdonald advising employees to remain in Alberta, as there were many implications to consider such as coverage for WCB, Sun Life benefits and compliance with evolving public health mandates. However, those wanting to work outside of Alberta on a temporary basis (only within Canada), should discuss this with your manager or chair who will then seek approval from your dean or associate VP. If approved at this level, this decision will further be reviewed by HR  for a final decision. Again, there are different "rules" across the provinces on coverage issues and so the final say will rest with HR.

I have asked for a communication directive from HR to forward out to our membership so there is a common understanding of the steps in place for these out of province working arrangement requests. The temporary basis would need to be clarified further for our members who are making these requests and for the supervisors approving these requests. I hope to get this out to you shortly.

Stop PSE Cuts
The MRSA understands that political decisions can have significant impacts on MRSA members and their work, and that it is our responsibility to work within the political system to influence decisions affecting MRSA and its members.  To that point, we have created a Non-Partisan Policy which speaks to the importance of working as a collective unit to  participate in, or coordinate, campaigns to advocate and educate in the best interests of MRSA and its members.

As I communicated to the membership last week, the MRSA is working closely with the MRFA and SAMRU in joining a coalition of organizations representing over 154,000 undergraduate and graduate students, over 11,000 faculty and instructors, and over 13,000 support staff in Alberta’s post-secondary education system to campaign and demand that the government Stop PSE Cuts. The asks of the campaign include:

  • an immediate freeze on the support staff layoffs and a return to reasonable support staff levels;
  • an end to the hiring freeze of tenure track professors and an end to sessional instructors' permanent precarity;  
  • to stop further budget cuts on post secondary education for the coming budget year, including the planned cuts to operating grants;
  • to stop the drastic tuition increases and, in future, cap tuition increases at the Consumer Price Index;
  • the removal of performance-based funding metrics.
I participated in the PSI organized drive-by picket in front of Minister of Advanced Education's, Demetrios Nicolaides Constituency office in Calgary on Saturday, January 30. MRFA President, Lee Easton, was on the ground at the office to provide media details of the event and I think all measures of success were reached, including a convoy of close to 60 vehicles and a response from the Minister. You can still participate by sending  a letter to Minister Nicolaides, Premier Kenney and your local MLA.  

Let's talk about Mental Health
In our most recent Comms Update from Trika Macdonald (January 28), we were informed of a new Wellness at Work section on the Human Resources website. We have yet to see the results of our recent campus survey, but there was an indication of a declining sense of well being. This resource has been added to increase awareness of the resources available to support you through this difficult time and make these resources easy to find. I think they have done a wonderful job with this and you should take a look!

Resources will be broken down into four main pillars to include:
  • Healthy Mind
  • Healthy Body
  • Healthy Work
  • Healthy Life
Tax breaks for working from home
As a result of the unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19, many people have been working at home and using their kitchens, bedrooms and living rooms as their work space. In response, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has introduced a new temporary flat rate method to simplify claiming the deduction for home office expenses for the 2020 tax year.

As an employee, you may be able to claim a deduction for home office expenses (work-space-in-the-home expenses, office supplies and certain phone expenses). This deduction is claimed on your personal income tax return. Deductions reduce the amount of income you pay tax on, so they reduce your overall income tax liability. Please take a look at this information. I'm hoping we will have further communication from HR on this in our next Comms Update.

You may also find this article on what you need to know about the new work-from-home tax break helpful too.

Vacation Time
As you are aware, we signed off on an MOA to extend vacation time usage until June 30, 2021 due to COVID. A reminder to you that you need to work on a plan with your supervisor to use your 2020 vacation time. Implications of not using this time prior to June 30 may result in a further budget deficit for departments which could ultimately result in further "cuts". It doesn't look like a sunny vacation is in the cards for us any time soon, so please consider some of the following strategies for using your time:

  • rotate days off during the week - how about a Wednesday off every week or maybe a Friday?
  • use the Reading Break for time off if it could be a slower time in your area;
  • use some time around Easter and give yourselves some extra time off.
Collective Bargaining/Negotiations
We have tabled further discussions around commencing collective bargaining until February 24. We will provide further updates when available.

So that's a wrap for me this month.....Happy Valentine's Day to you all.

Michelle LoGullo | President
Mount Royal Staff Association

Treasurer's Report


Here are the latest happenings from the Audit and Finance committee...

  • We finalized the purchase of a $50,000 GIC with the surplus from 2019-20 financial year. The GIC is a one year non-redeemable fixed term. We chose the 1 year short term investment instrument to ensure funds are available if needed. More of the Association’s GICs are coming due in the new year which will trigger a review of our investment practices to ensure we are getting the best value for our money.
  • We are continuing the work of moving the EDT database to MyMRU which brings it into the MRU servers and all that entails. The database will then also be part of a single sign on. This will be moving forward as a joint project with the EDT committee.
  • Click here to access a really important article in the latest LAPP newsletter about how pension funds have been politicized in many jurisdictions. It is very important to remember that our pension is part of our total compensation and not a “perk”. 
  • PIPA Compliance report card - to ensure the Association is compliant with the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) we have completed the following:
  1. Training of executive board members on a general awareness of the principles of PIPA
  2. Ensuring our members are familiar with PIPA and related resources.Click here to access a good resource for you to become familiar with PIPA.
  3. The Treasurer position has been designated as the individual responsible to ensure that the MRSA is compliant with PIPA. 
  4. Review and revise our contracts for service to include the requirement that our contractors follow PIPA when dealing with any member information.

Our next step is to review all the points that the Association collects member information and post PIPA notifications i.e. EDT applications. 

  • Here is a summary of the status of  Audit and Finance committee priorities as approved by the MRSA Executive in September 2020:
  1. Dues Structure - Resolved as of September 25, 2020

  2. EDT Database moving over to MyMRU - Ongoing 

  3. EDT EI & CPP taxable benefit payments review - To be addressed in 2021

  4. Insurance Review - Resolved September 15, 2020

  5. Renew Association’s Lease Agreement with MRU - Resolved October 27, 2020

  6. Finance Policy in collaboration with the Governance Committee - Submitted December 2020

  7. Internal Controls review including PIPA Compliance Audit - Ongoing

 Some final words of wisdom from Warren Buffet ...

“We don’t have to be smarter than the rest - we just have to be more disciplined”


Submitted on behalf of the Audit and Finance Committee (Lanny Anderson, Mariberth Blanco, Johanna Franconeri, Michelle Logullo, Christine Pepper - ex-officio,) by Craig Baskett, MRSA Treasurer


Committee Updates

The Governance Committee has completed work on a Non-Partisan policy. It has been approved by the executive board and is now available for members on our website.



MRSA Office Closure Notice

In keeping with guidelines from Alberta public health officials, the MRSA office is closed until further notice. During this time, MRSA operations continue as the Executive and Committees shift to working remotely.

Your calls and questions are important to us. Please do not hesitate to contact the MRSA office at 403.440.5993, or via email at, or any member of the MRSA Executive. Please be assured that MRSA office voicemail and email are monitored regularly.

Take good care, and be safe; we wish you and your families the very best of health.   



MRSA Events

Upcoming SEMINARS February 9, 2021 

  • LAPP Retirement Options    9:30am-10:45am
  • LAPP Buying Back Service  11:00am-12:00pm


MRSA Staff Lounge

The MRSA staff lounge remains open for those staff members working on campus. We have worked with Environmental Health and Safety to ensure COVID-19 measures are being followed. The furniture has been arranged to ensure appropriate physical distancing including only 1 chair per table. Wipes and hand sanitizer have been placed in the lounge.

 To ensure this space continues to be available please follow these measures...

  • Masks must be worn in the staff lounge except when eating or drinking. 
  • One person per table or couch - please do not move tables or chairs.
  • Wipe down microwaves and fridge after use.
  • Wipe down faucets and the water filter lever after use.
  • Wipe down the table and chair or couch that you use.
  • Wipe down the TV remote after use.
  • Please follow safe handwashing practices.

Thank you

Events and Activities

Send a Positive Message Activity & Contest

February 14 is Valentine’s Day and we know not everyone likes to celebrate it; however, who wouldn’t like to receive a positive message and a chance to win some chocolate?  If you want to enter to win a $50 e-gift card to Cococo Chocolatier then complete this form to send a note of thanks or encouragement to a fellow colleague at MRU.  Even if you don’t want the chocolates yourself, we would like to encourage you to send a positive message to someone anyway.  If you win, you can always give the chocolates to someone else if you want. Since we are in a pandemic, some people might really appreciate receiving an uplifting message right now.

How it works:  Complete the form. The MRSA Social Committee will send the note on your behalf to your colleague on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021 from our new MRSASocial email account.  Positive messages may be sent anonymously or with your name attached (option in the form).

Rules:  You will get one entry into the draw each time you fill in the form.  The form will be open until 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 10, 2021.  This contest is open to MRSA Members. Messages will be sent to mtroyal email addresses; this can include sending to non-MRSA members (such as exempt or Management employees) as long as they have an mtroyal email address.  Three winners will be selected on February 11, 2021 and will each be sent a $50.00 e-gift card to Cococo Chocolatier on Friday, February 12, 2021.

Stay tuned for more fun activities coming this year.  We have a scavenger hunt coming up, a talent contest - brush off your magic hat and cape, as well as a pet photo contest coming soon.  

 Feedback for the Social Committee

If you would like to provide us with some feedback, please feel free to complete this form. Or if you have any suggestions for us, we’d love to hear from you.

 Contacting the Social Committee

The Social Committee now has our own email address, If you would like to contact us, please feel free to email us at You can use this email to provide us with suggestions, feedback, or to let us know you’d like to join our team.  We’re always happy to have more people join our Committee, don’t be shy.  We meet once per month on the second Tuesday of each month at noon (virtually right now).

General Announcements

Is there a Mount Royal alum you know who stands out because of their passionate commitment to their profession or community? 

 Now is your chance to shine a light on their remarkable contributions. Take 5 minutes today and nominate them for the 2021 Alumni Achievement Awards. 

Looking for inspiration? Browse the stories of past recipients

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Anna Parks

Exploring Indigenous Education Part 2

Since our last Indigenous education panel was so successful, participants asked us for a part 2 and we are going to deliver! OAI is hosting part two of our introductory session on Indigenous Education. We would like to thank the Library for organizing our online space! We are excited to have a staff member on our panel and are hoping you could share this out with MRSA community. Please share this event with your networks and register at the link below!

Exploring Indigenous Education Part 2!

Wednesday, February 24 at 2:15-4:00 pm 
Online through Google Meet
Register here

If you attended Part One, we are going to go deeper into the topics and issues around Indigenous education. If you didn't get to part one, view it here: Indigenous Ed Panel part 1 

Indigenous peoples have unique and rigorous education practices that align with each Nations’ specific worldview. Mainstream educational systems often leave out these teachings and approaches to learning. Join the Office of Academic Indigenization and our panel of experts as we explore the uniqueness of Indigenous Education and how we can bring more of this into our educational journeys and lives.

Returning Panelists:

Tori McMillan
Tori is a member of Berens River First Nation, an Anishinaabe community located in Treaty 5 in Manitoba. For most of his life he has lived and worked in Calgary, located in Treaty 7 territory.
Since 2010, he has led the Indigenous University Bridging Program at Mount Royal University – this program provides access to post-secondary for Indigenous learners, many of whom are the first from their families to attend university. His role is to support and encourage them as they transition from upgrading into degree programs.

Jessie Fiddler-Kiss
Jessie Fiddler- Kiss is Métis, a member of MNA, and her Fiddler family comes from the Batoche settlement in Northern Saskatchewan. She is an independent  consultant, and Executive Director and interim President of The Moss Bag Project- a non-profit whose mission it is to create sustainable and reciprocal structures of support by focusing on the health of Indigenous families and children.

Currently attending Graduate studies, Jessie is an advocate for decolonizing education and maternal health for all of our futures. She is passionate about reclamation, the sharing of Indigenous narratives, children and academics, and the land and its truths. 

Crystal Manyfingers
Crystal Manyfingers is a Blackfoot member of the Kainai First Nation of Treaty 7 in southern Alberta. Crystal is an author, a TedX speaker and, most importantly, a bridge-builder between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups here in the City of Calgary.  Crystal Manyfingers the Indigenous Consultant to Curriculum at Bow Valley College with a Master’s Degree specializing in Adult and Workplace  Learning.

Michael Broadfoot
Michael Daniel Broadfoot is a Métis, Two-Spirit, graduate of Mount Royal University. In Treaty 7 he was given the name Apiskonakii translating to Far Shooter or Shoots Far by Elder Miksika'am of the Siksika Nation and has been adopted by Elder Betty Crazy Boy of the Piikani Nation. Michael believes in self expression and self care, and is currently working on applying to graduate and medical school. It took Michael seven years to graduate and with the support of the Iniskim community, now has a bachelor of science in Health Science with a minor in Indigenous Studies. Michael is a Hip Hop Emcee and goes by MC GoodMedicine because he believes in words being good medicine.

Kinanâskomitin (I am grateful to you)

Bob Montgomery (he/him)
Community Engagement Strategist / Admin Assistant
Office of Academic Indigenization

Online Ergonomic Assessments Available

If you are working from home and are having difficulty setting up your workstation to be ergonomically comfortable, reach out to Environmental, Health & Safety ( for a virtual ergonomic assessment. Ergonomic hazards can often be solved with a few minor adjustments, and it's better to catch concerns before they become significant issues.

See these tips for your office space at home.

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