President's Message

President’s Message

President Curtis Larson

The ASPA AGM was held on Wednesday April 21, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. via Zoom. Last year when I wrote my annual report to the membership the COVID-19 pandemic was still in the early stages and we certainly didn’t know what we know today and I think many of us, myself included, felt we would be back at work in the fall of 2020. Little did
we know that more than a year later most of us would continue to work remotely and many restrictions would still be in place. But we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, with vaccines being approved (4 so far) and an increasing number of vaccine
shots available in the province. I know this has challenged all of us as we have had to deal with stress, anxiety, depression, and grief when we lost loved ones to the pandemic and were not able to grieve together. I encourage everyone to seek out help when you need it and encourage everyone to reach out to friends and family to keep
those connections strong and support each other and when it is your turn to get the vaccine to sign up.

Our biggest news of 2020-21 was the ratification of the new ASPA collective agreement
in September 2020. After working for more than two years the bargaining team was able
to bring an agreement to the membership that restores increments to all members of
ASPA and is hopefully something we can build on in future agreements. On behalf of all
ASPA members I want to thank the members of the bargaining team for their dedication
and hard work to get this agreement in what was a very tough round of bargaining with
the employer. Dawn Giesbrecht as the co-lead, Milan Bogunovic, Colleen Cochran,
Graham Wisser, Darcy Hryn-Bird, and our adviser and co-lead Hugh Wagner from the
Grain Services Union who provided us with invaluable advice, direction, and many great
stories.


While we don’t have any details yet on what the fall term of 2021 will look like, it is
becoming increasingly likely that more students will be returning to campus for in person
classes and labs and with that, more faculty and staff will be returning as well. For some
this will be welcome news while for others there may be some anxiety around returning
to work and being in close proximity to others. ASPA is and will continue to work with
administration and the other unions on campus to ensure all necessary safety protocols
and supports for our members are in place before we return to campus in larger
numbers. I encourage any of our members that have concerns about returning to work
to stay up to date on the information the university sends out in regards to COVID19 in
regards to the policies and procedures around what to do to stay safe and follow those
instructions. The policies and procedures we have been using for the people that are
currently working on campus have been effective in keeping us safe when everyone
follows the safety protocols.

The university remains committed to allowing more people to continue to work from
home after the university reopens through an application process that they will be rolling
out once plans on the reopening are firmed up. Of course, this will be dependent on if
your job can be done remotely in full or in part and there will be other challenges to sort
out such as when do you need to attend a meeting in person, do we need to have
regular in person check-ins with your manager, do you get a dedicated office/desk if you
do most of your work remotely, etc. Other companies have done this successfully and
the university has indicated they are not looking to reinvent the wheel and will be
looking at what has been tried and proven on which to build their policies and
procedures.

After such a challenging year we have just lived through, I want to give a big thank you
to all the volunteers on our various committees. You continue to be engaged in
providing our members with valuable services and representing us on various
committees at the university level through online meetings, emails, chats, etc. Your
dedication has not gone unnoticed, and the membership appreciates all that you do.
Just a few of the highlights over the past year include:

  • Your Social committee continued to hold online events that have had great
    participation so thank you to all the members of this committee for keeping all of
    us going during the pandemic and to the chair of this committee Henry Tan.
  • Our Social Justice committee has continued to meet and while it is working on
    the committee’s terms of reference has brought forward many questions and
    ideas that will have your ASPA executive and the membership as a whole, look
    more closely at how we view our world, ask questions like what does
    reconciliation mean, what does privilege look like, what can ASPA do to support
    social justice issues, etc.
  • Our Communications and Research committees have both been very active over
    the past year keeping members informed and getting the pulse of the
    membership through a variety of surveys that have been invaluable to the
    executive and myself as president.
  • Your representatives on the university OHC committee, Peter Krebs and Susan
    Cook, continue doing a great job representing our membership on this committee
    and keeping the ASPA executive informed of health and safety issues.

Our two ASPA staff members, Angeline Hainstock and Darcy Hryn-Bird, went home in
the middle of March 2020 and have not returned to the office since then but they have
continued to provide exemplary service to the membership while working remotely. I
personally want to thank both Darcy and Angeline for the support they have provided to
me and the ASPA executive this past year as it has been very challenging for both of
them.

  • As our Member Services Officer Darcy continues to provide our members with
    great support around issues to do with our collective agreement and you likely
    won’t find another person that knows more about our CA than Darcy or how to
    deal with the issues that come her way. This past year has been more
    challenging than usual due to a high number of layoffs of ASPA members most
    due to the pandemic but for other reasons as well. ASPA Annual General Meeting
    Committee Reports
    April 21, 2021
  • Angeline had only been with ASPA just over 5 months before we all went home
    but has really grown into her position of Administrative Assistant and was able to
    successfully transition to working remotely. She continues to keep me and the
    vice presidents on track for the administrative work we need to pay attention to.

For your Executive members this has been a very different year with all of our meetings
being online. Some of us have yet to meet in person but we have found a way to
connect and become a cohesive team. I want to thank all of the executive members for
the way you have stepped up and worked for the ASPA membership in a multitude of
ways. I also want to send a special thank you to our treasurer Tamara Hominuke for
taking on this role. You have done a great job under very challenging circumstances
with no one to really show you how to do the role and for that we all are very
appreciative.


Lastly, I want to thank all of you, our members for your feedback and comments through
our surveys, online information sessions, brown bag lunch sessions, emails, etc. as
those are important to the executive to hear. The executive needs to hear from all of
you so that we can have a better understanding of what the membership feels are the
important issues we need to be addressing. As a democratic institution, ASPA needs to
have you as members be engaged if we are to represent you to the best of our ability.
I am stepping down as president at the end of April this year and stepping away from
the executive as well after 3 years on the executive, bargaining team and as president. I
wish the new executive and president well and look forward to seeing where we go
post-pandemic.


Respectfully submitted by,
Curtis Larson, ASPA President