Happy New Year to all of you! I hope everyone was able to get some down time over the extended break we had this year as I know we all needed and deserved it after the year we just went through.
The U of S has announced that spring and summer classes will continue to be offered mainly online and that most of us will continue to work from home full or part time depending on our jobs. ASPA has not been given any further information on when the campus might be returning to more in person instruction and opening up offices again other than what was contained in President’s Stoicheffs’ message this month which indicated they will be making a decision on the fall term in May, 2021.
On January 19, 2021 the university announced the program to allow ASPA members to use up to one years’ worth of their APDA allocation ($1,100) to cover costs associated with setting up their home office. The first application period was very short and ended on January 29 for payments to be received on your March 15 pay. There is another application period now open from February 1 to May 14, 2021 for payment to be received on your June 15 pay. Pretty much anything related to setting up your home office can be claimed for this, laptops, desk, chair, sit-stand desk, lighting or mikes for online meetings, etc. Just remember that this is reimbursed on your pay cheque so normal income tax and other deductions are taken off as it is treated the same as your salary for deductions.
The university is still working on how they will deal with the T2200 tax forms for claiming expenses on your 2020 tax return for everyone that worked from home. The federal governments change that allows anyone that worked from home to claim a set amount without any receipts may make the issuing of the T2200 unnecessary in most cases but they are still working this out as to what is the best way to handle this.
Work on finalizing the wording of the new collective agreement is getting close to being completed and I hope that we will wrap this up very soon. The first payment of the signing bonus ($1,000) was paid on the December 15 pay to all eligible members. The second payment of $1,500 will be on your May pay cheques for eligible members.
As mentioned in my last update the university has been working on a formalized remote work program. While we continue to be required to mainly work remotely and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, this program is basically ready to go for when the pandemic ends. We expect that the university will start rolling this program out with communications to the campus community in the spring/summer once we have a better idea of when the campus will reopen. If you already think you would like to continue to work remotely after the pandemic ends you can always start a discussion with your supervisor and get more information on what is required to request this and how this might work for you and your unit. The university retains the right to approve or not any of these applications but they seem to be indicating that there will be greater opportunities for this to happen than maybe occurred in the past, and are encouraging colleges and administrative units to look at these options carefully.
ASPA’s AGM will be held in April (online) and we are looking for candidates to fill vacant positions on the executive. I encourage all members to consider letting your name stand for one of these positions as they are great learning opportunities to get to know not only more about ASPA but meet other ASPA members and participate on different committees. There are also funding available for professional development available for ASPA executive members. We have 4 positions up for election/re-election this year so if you are interested in finding out more information or want to submit your name, please contact Patrick Hauser at email@example.com, as he is on the Executive and will be leading the nominations committee this year.
Curtis Larson, ASPA President