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March 2021
  • President's Update
  • Treasurer's Report
  • MRSA  Office Closure Notice

  • MRSA Events
  • General Announcements
  • In the News

President's Update 
        

 

 

Sláinte! Since this is the month of the Irish, I thought it would be appropriate to share a fun fact. In an Irish pub, patrons toast each other sláinte (pronounced "slaan-sha") as they clink glasses of Guinness. So here is to cheer with green beer, (or whatever is your pleasure) on March 17!

 Another fact about March 17.... it's the one year anniversary date of my office closure due to COVID-19. Along with most of you, I share an incredible sense of disbelief that we have been separated for 12 months. Given the recent communication from the university, we know for sure it will be at least several months until we might be together again, so get ready to break out the patio furniture and take your home office to the deck. Many thanks once again to those in our MRSA family that have been on campus for the duration of this pandemic. We appreciate your work in keeping our campus running and safe for all those that must be on campus in person.  Go raibh maith agat, as the Irish would say.

 Business now.....

 Accrued Vacation Time

As I previously communicated to you, a Memo of Agreement was signed in October, 2020 permitting staff to carry over accrued 2019 vacation time into June 2021 for usage. This one time exception was due to uncertainties around both the pandemic and budget considerations. Some of you will be receiving a notification from HR after the March 15 pay period with the balance of carry over vacation time that must be used prior to June 30. Please work with your supervisors to determine a time that will be agreeable for both parties. 

 Employment Standards says Employers must give vacation time and employees must take the vacation to which they’re entitled. If the employer and employee can’t agree on the employee’s vacation time, the employer can decide when it will be taken. Therefore, it is to your advantage to work out a vacation schedule ahead of time that is agreeable for your area. Consider rotating a regular day off during the week, half days, or full weeks off depending on your vacation balance.

 Income Tax Time

A reminder that your T4 slips are now available through mymru.ca. Remember that you do have the option to claim Home Office Expenses this year on your tax form. If you missed it in last month's newsletter, this article may be helpful on what you need to know about the new work-from-home tax break.

 Negotiations

We are tentatively set to begin Negotiations on March 10. Again, there may be further delays due to ongoing pandemic concerns and we will continue to keep you updated on timelines. We continue to meet regularly as the MRSA Negotiations Committee to review and refine the interests we want to bring forward to the Board of Governors. Continuing changes to legislation provide ongoing questions and concerns around the impact of these decisions on our collective bargaining. 

 Budget 2021

On February 25, the provincial government announced the Alberta Budget 2021. To summarize, universities and colleges are among the few areas facing cuts in the Alberta government’s stay-the-course budget, with institutions expected to cover an increasing share of operational costs. In the upcoming year, the province will provide 5.4 per cent less funding for post-secondary operations, while schools will be expected to pony up 2.3 per cent more. Alberta’s post-secondary institutions are slated to lose 750 full-time equivalent jobs in 2021-22, according to the budget. Indications are that these job losses will largely be through attrition and we will watch closely how this progresses.

 As per the Calgary Herald, Mount Royal University is the main benefactor of a handful of capital funding announcements related to post-secondary in Budget 2021. The budget allocates $50 million over three years for construction projects to repurpose existing spaces on campus. The money is meant to accommodate enrolment growth and will focus on adding capacity and increasing the functionality of current space. This project will repurpose 21,513 square metres of space and add another 2,328 square metres. It will be broken up into three phases. 

Special General Meeting (SGM)

The MRSA Executive Board will be calling a SGM for March 24 (11:30 - 12:00). We will be moving to motion for four (4) separate amendments to our current Constitution and there will be a Coffee Chat on March 10 to provide an opportunity to present the proposed amendments to our membership. We are sending out the power point presentation in advance for those that may not be able to join us, and we invite you to submit questions and comments here.

In order for these amendments to pass, 50% of our membership must cast ballots and 50% + one (1) ballots must be in support of the amendments. Casual staff will have their first opportunity to cast ballots as members of the MRSA.  It is crucial that we have as many members as possible cast ballots in order for us to make extremely important changes to sustain our Executive Board and the business of the Association. Please join us March 10 for this presentation. Information will be sent shortly.

Continue to take care of yourselves MRU!

---

Michelle LoGullo | President
Mount Royal Staff Association
mlogullo@mtroyal.ca

Treasurer's Report

First of all - a shout out to Lanny Anderson for his wisdom, experience and patience, which was always welcome and appreciated on the Audit and Finance committee. Lanny is leaving Mount Royal and will be stepping down from his MRSA responsibilities. Enjoy the mountains Lanny!

We want to welcome Nadine back to the Audit and Finance fold! With Lanny resigning his position we require a VP on the committee. Nadine volunteered and we are excited to welcome her back for a lot of reasons, not the least being her experience with the MRSA budget.

It's budget planning time for the MRSA! On February 24th the Executive will be discussing the spending priorities for 2021-22 to provide direction to the Audit and Finance committee for budget planning purposes.  Also at this meeting the Q1 and Q2 actuals for 2020-21 will be reviewed. This report will be available after the Executive meeting on the 24th. 

There are some discussions occurring as to whether or not the MRSA should align its fiscal year with the University's when Mount Royal switches to an April to March fiscal year in 2022. Currently Audit and Finance is reviewing this and will make a recommendation to the board on February 24th. If we (MRSA) choose to move to a April to March fiscal year we can review and modify the budget as needed.

As we continue to move towards PIPA compliance you might start to notice information collection notifications on the dependent bursary form or on the EDT application. The purpose of these notifications is so we are clear with you as to what we are going to use your personal information for and that we can only use it for those purposes. Here is a great primer on PIPA.

We have reinvested one of our mature GICs into a new GIC through Servus which offers a promotional rate of 90-days redeemable at 0.25% coupled with a 12-month non-redeemable at 1% (the effective rate of 0.851% is over 15 months). This would mature mid-May 2022, ensuring we continue to have liquidity in the event of any sort of job action.

Here is the Audit and Finance committee's quote of the month...

“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people that they don’t like.” – Will Rogers

______

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

 

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 mrsa@mtroyal.ca, 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

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

 

February Positive Messages Campaign

Sending out all of the positive messages to the Mount Royal community made my heart warm. The Social Committee is thrilled that this went over so well and that so many people took part.  We’re sure if we did it again, there would be even more people participating.  There were almost 600 messages that were sent out in our community, that’s a lot of love and the Social Committee would like to say thank you!  Christine Pepper has been suggesting this idea for a couple of years now, but on campus, we couldn’t figure out the best way to have written notes sent without a huge logistical plan.  This year, COVID actually made the plan come together, we realized we could manage this virtually. Thank you to everyone for making this a successful activity!

I want to share some of the nice messages floating around this day - February 12th:

  • There are positive vibes flying everywhere right now!
  • This compliment made my day.
  • You made my day/week/month/year.
  •  It not only improved my day, it made my day perfect.

 Our Mount Royal community is a special place and I hope you all continue to send those positive vibes to your colleagues all year long.

Upcoming Social Committee Activities

MRSA Members, get ready to participate in some more fun this month.

St. Patrick’s Day Photo Scavenger Hunt Contest, March 17, 2021

View Categories for photos at this link. You may print this to keep track of your photos.

Rules: Each photo you submit gives you one entry into our draw to win a $75.00 e-gift card prize (maximum 14 photos per person). Photos must be submitted by 12:00 p.m. (noon) on March 15, 2021 to the mrsasocial@mtroyal.ca email address. Please list the categories of the photos you are submitting in your email via the category number.  A winner will be drawn on March 16, 2021 and will get to choose from an Amazon, Tim Hortons, or Starbucks e-gift card.  The winner will need to notify Christine Pepper by Friday March 19, 2021 which e-gift card they would like to receive. By submitting photos, you agree to having them shared with the MRSA community. All photos will be shared in a slideshow or video format with all participants on March 17, 2021.  This contest is open to MRSA Members.

Talent Show, May 27, 2021

That’s right, May 27, not March, but we’re announcing it now to let people have time to prepare their talent!  Watch for information and a sign-up sheet in our April Newsletter. Start thinking about what talent you can share live at the Google Meet or via video submission. Members will be voting for first, second and third place prizes of $150.00, $100.00 and $50.00 e-gift cards respectively. Now that you’ve seen the prize amounts, are you considering a talent you have?  It can be anything from poetry, cocktail making (like in the movie Cocktail), magic show, pet tricks, unicycle riding, a physical skill, etc. If you consider it a talent, then so do we! Show us what you’ve got; you have almost three months to hone your skill or even learn something new to share with us. We can’t wait for the show!

 Recap of this year so far from the Social Committee

We hope you’ve been having fun with us virtually this year.  It’s been fun coming up with virtual ideas for you during this crazy time.  So far this year we have held:

  • Halloween Costume Contest (by photo submission)
  • Pumpkin Carving Contest (by photo submission)   
  • October Movie Night
  • November Crossword Puzzle Contest (via Google Drive)
  • November Games lunch
  • Gingerbread House Contest  (by photo submission) 
  • December Movie Night
  • January Crossword Puzzle Contest (via Google Drive)
  • New Year’s Resolutions Sign-Up
  • February Positive Messages Campaign

 Please send us some feedback or suggestions.  We’d love to hear from you via this form.

 Contacting the Social Committee

You can reach us via this email: mrsasocial@mtroyal.ca. 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

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 (EHS@mtroyal.ca) 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.

In the News

'Worst possible time' - Post-secondary associations protest province's funding shortfalls

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