November 17, 2018

By RYAN HORNE

It was the referendum that wasn’t.

Some students may have been wondering what happened with the referendum concerning the Conestoga Students Inc. benefits plan over the summer.  Well, it never actually happened.

CSI was able to negotiate a deal with Galivan & Associates Student Networks that was in the best interest of the students according to CSI president Ciara Byrne. The deal with the benefits broker was finalized a week before the referendum was supposed to take place from July 4-6.  The referendum was cancelled at that time.

CSI originally set up the referendum because they weren’t happy with the escalating prices Galivan & Associates was charging.

“They came to us with a really high price and we didn’t want to charge our students that much money,” said Byrne.  “We work for the students and we want what’s best for the students. That wasn’t what’s best.”

Two years ago the health and benefits plan was $225.  Then in February 2010 the price rose to $270 and the coverage was lowered to only 70 per cent.

This year the benefits broker came with an even higher price of over $300.

CSI wasn’t happy the price of the health plan rose in consecutive years and thought students wouldn’t be happy either. They called a student-wide referendum to vote on whether or not to terminate the agreement with the broker.  The vote was supposed to occur on the Internet through student email.

The two sides managed to agree to keep the same price as last year which is $270.  Students’ coverage for reasonable and customary charges is now up to 80 per cent as well.

The contract with Galivan & Associates Student Networks ends in 2016. The company serves over 160,000  students and 27 post-secondary schools nationwide.

However, if the referendum did occur, the time of the vote was a concern.  Many students were on summer break and were unaware of what was going on.  But, Byrne said many students, including non-summer students, were asking about the referendum and were aware of what was happening.

“We were concerned initially that it was the summer and not enough people would vote or not enough students would be able to vote, but surprisingly students check their student email during the summer,” said Byrne.

This year’s CSI benefits plan includes ambulance, prescription drugs, vision, health practitioners, medical equipment and supplies, and dental care.

As always, if you already have health and benefits coverage you are free to opt out of the CSI student benefits plan.

The deadline is Sept. 30.

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