On October 30, members of the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) voted to endorse separation from the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) at the UTSU Annual General Meeting (AGM). The motion to separate passed unopposed with 222 votes.

Under the separation, the UTMSU’s Health and Dental Plan will no longer be under the jurisdiction of the UTSU. As a result, UTMSU will need to find a new plan under a different healthcare provider.

Vice-President External Atif Abdullah spoke to The Medium about the UTMSU’s plans moving forward with the separation.  Abdullah touched on the UTMSU’s pursuit of a new Health and Dental Plan.

“The UTMSU, upon a successful separation vote at the AGM, will begin the plans for a new Health and Dental plan.”

Abdullah explained that the UTMSU intends to initiate searching for a new Health and Dental Plan beginning in 2019.

“An RFP (Request for Proposal) process will begin in January with our board sub-committee that will be established for that very purpose.”

Abdullah, who supported the separation at the UTSU’s AGM, pointed towards issues regarding campus representation as grounds for the UTMSU-UTSU split. Among the concerns raised was a perceived lack of support on the Health and Dental Plan, as well as a lack of solidarity on the University Mandated Leave of Absence Policy, which passed in June. Despite the separation, Abdullah believes that both student unions will be able to continue to work together on issues affecting both campuses.

“The UTMSU and UTSU separation will ensure that UTMSU can fully represent the full and entire interests of all UTM undergraduate students. We will be able to better represent our matters and issues better to Governing Council should they recognize us as one of the central student unions along with APUS, GSU, SCSU and the UTSU.”

The Health and Dental fee is $178.51 per semester for each full time undergraduate student at UTM and St. George. In an academic year from September 1 to August 31, a UTM student pays $357.02 for both services. Students may opt out of the UTMSU health and dental plan for the policy year.

Abdullah advocated that the UTMSU was confident in securing a new plan by the new school year. When asked about the potential difficulty that may arise in bargaining with healthcare providers without the support of the UTSU, Abdullah argued that the separation meant the UTMSU would be able to cater the plan to best suit the needs of UTM’s student body.

“We are not concerned about bargaining without the UTSU, as we know UTM demographics and the needs of students are very different than those at the St. George campus. We will also be receiving detailed information on the plan usage more accurately when the UTMSU administers it locally, as the UTSU does not track that data.”

The UTMSU-UTSU separation will be finalized on August 31, 2019.