Town Hall recap and recording

A sincere thanks to everyone who was able to attend last week’s SHCS Virtual Town Hall! It was a pleasure to see so many of you there. An additional thanks to those who provided feedback in the post-Town Hall survey.

Of course, we understand that some staff who were scheduled to work or for other reasons were not able to attend. To make it accessible for all, we recorded the Town Hall, and it is now available to watch on-demand (passcode required).

Passcode: T0wnH@ll


To skip to sections you are most curious about, here is the timeline for each segment of the Town Hall.

Start – Welcome, Introduction, and Summer Operations (Andrew Parr)
16:52 – Returning to Work (Keith Kawa/Andrew Parr)
28:09 – Fall Operations and Departmental Updates (Department Directors)
1:22:03 – Brief Q&A
1:25:16 – Wrap-up (Andrew Parr)

Q&A follow-up

With so much to cover, we were unfortunately not able to spend much time on the Q&A segment. However, please find answers below to both pre-submitted questions and those that arose during the event.

Human Resources Questions

Answered by Keith Kawa, Director, Human Resources, Vice-President, Students Portfolio

Are workers currently on layoff guaranteed a recall, either the first or second batch? What future layoffs are planned for CUPE 116?

Keith Kawa: I’ll answer these questions together: As Andrew mentioned, our summer is going to be really quiet, and as has been discussed during the Town Hall, the plan is to return to largely normal operations in the fall. As Colin shared, we’re looking forward to recalling hundreds of our employees, and our plan is to recall our most senior employees first, but we can’t guarantee who that will be and exactly when that will happen. 

Andrew mentioned in his opening remarks, but there will likely be further mitigation strategies employed between now and the fall, more layoffs and furloughs, and there could also be some recalls if business picks up. But we can’t predict the future. And as we all know, the environment we’re in can change quickly. 

We do understand how difficult the uncertainty can be. It’s far from ideal, so we’ll be as transparent as possible, and we’ll continue to share information with you as these operational decisions are confirmed.

Is there any other chance to apply for the voluntary lay-off for people who didn’t know about the restaurant shutting down after the April 8 deadline?

Keith Kawa: Unfortunately, the answer is no, we’re not able to revisit those choices retroactively.

How will this change affect my mat leave that starts in June?

Keith Kawa: It’s difficult to answer that question without more specific information, so I’d ask that if you have a question that pertains to you specifically, to contact the HR Manager or HR Coordinator for your area. If you’re not sure who that is, your manager can assist you, or you can get in touch with me directly.

Financial Questions

Answered by Brian Heathcote, Chief Financial Officer, Vice-President, Students Portfolio

Has UBC financial mitigation been able to achieve its objectives? The BC Provincial Government greenlit universities to operate with a deficit this year and next. Given this, why is such severe financial mitigation necessary?

Brian Heathcote: It won’t come as a surprise to hear that all SHCS units had immensely impacted financial performance in fiscal year 2020-21. When COVID-19 hit us in March 2020 we quickly adjusted our budget expectations for fiscal year 2020-21; the good news is we ended the year close to the projections, the bad news is we lost almost $62M as opposed to making a contribution to UBC’s central budget of about $25M.

We anticipate fiscal 2021-22 to begin to rebound, but with a very quiet summer and some increasing costs of operation we are projecting net losses for this fiscal year as well. To help us get out of the financial hole COVID-19 has created, for the current and following years, UBC has kindly provided us with a forgiveness on our annual financial contribution to the central budget and has given us a temporary “holiday” from paying the principal on our mortgages.

The above comments are in the context of all areas of SHCS working diligently to mitigate costs and manage our operations as effectively as possible. SHCS is an ancillary operation, meaning it receives no funding and is fully responsible to cover all costs, including mortgages, loans, and capital costs, solely from revenues generated from the products and services we provide.

It is incumbent on us to reduce our losses by considering and applying any and all mitigation opportunities available to us, including some difficult decisions about staff layoffs and furloughs and longer-term operational changes, which reduce costs while allowing us to continue to meet the service expectations of our marketplace.

By legislation, universities are required to run balanced budgets each year. Without the government agreeing to allow the university to operate with a deficit, the financial mitigation undertaken would need to be more severe than it is. An example of the benefit realized, by the university and its employees, was the ability to provide pay continuity for an extended period of time.

COVID-19 Questions

Answered by Gontran Paget, Occupational Health and Safety Manager, SHCS and Andrew Parr, Associate Vice-President, SHCS

Is there an anticipated timeline for employer-supported vaccination for staff who aren't working remotely?

Gontran Paget: Getting all SHCS employees vaccinated as soon as possible is the collective target. However, decisions around vaccinations come from the Provincial Health Office, not UBC or SHCS. In order to achieve our goal of increasing employee vaccinations, UBC continues to work closely with Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) and the Provincial Health Office regarding the vaccination rollout on campus.

As you may know, VCH has established a vaccination clinic at UBC. However, an employer-supported program is not currently planned.

Some SHCS worker groups were deemed a priority by the province and have been offered early vaccines (i.e., Child Care Educators).

We are aiming to ensure the safest workplace possible for all our staff working on campus and we are confident the vaccine rollout will allow all British Columbian’s to receive at least one, and hopefully two doses, of a COVID-19 vaccine before the fall.

There is so much negativity and COVID-related fear around us. What fun and positive things can we look forward to for the next few months?

Andrew Parr: It’s a great question. At the SHCS level we recently hosted the SHCS Long Service and Outstanding Contribution Awards celebration and we continue to implement the goals described in our SHCS People Plan. Additionally, the OWC (Outstanding Workplace Committee) is hard at work creating virtual activities for our staff. At the department level, many activities are taking place to engage and connect staff, particularly those who are working on campus on a daily basis.

Finally, it is so important for all of us to focus on what we are grateful for and to take time to participate in activities that are safe and make us happy. The longer days and improving weather allow for many of those safe and rejuvenating activities to occur.

General Questions

Answered by Andrew Parr, Associate Vice-President, SHCS

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for SHCS, as we move forward and out of the pandemic?

Andrew Parr: Also a great question, and one that the SHCS Leadership Team and department leaders are considering for all areas of SHCS. We know that many learnings of this pandemic will stay with us well into the future. We are ready to take on these challenges and changes and to ensure all staff are kept up-to-date on any changes and are properly prepared to address them.

Examples of such changes are service delivery models in Food Services and the Bookstore, permanent alternative work arrangements for some employees, use of technology to deliver services, and new and enhanced internal and external communication methods and channels.

How does SHCS fit into UBC's Climate Action Plan (CAP) 2030?

Andrew Parr: SHCS is actively involved in creating and supporting UBC CAP 2030. Examples of our participation and how we have significant influence on UBC’s success include:

  • Food and nutrition: Healthy eating, local and organic, plant forward.
  • Housing: Supporting safe and supportive community development and reducing commutes to and from campus, along with the use of sustainable building materials and systems.
  • Sustainable Transportation Management: A key part of Parking Services’ role.
  • Waste: Waste reduction, composting, and recycling — operationally and education for our community.
  • Resources: Water and energy reduction.
  • Procurement: Sustainable and ethical procurement practices.