Student sues over health plan

In News /

By Jeff Lagerquist

The Ryerson Students’ Union will appear in small claims court in early 2011 to determine if third-year engineering student and former RSU presidential candidate Mark Single is entitled to the $290 in his tuition fees allocated to the RSU Members’ Health and Dental Plan.

“We plan to respond based on the policy that has been established by our board of directors,” said RSU president Toby Whitfield.

The student policy offered by Green Shield through the RSU includes 80 per cent of prescription drug costs, $500 for massage therapy, $300 for chiropractic care, and $240 in physiotherapy, as well as basic dental and travel coverage to a maximum of $750 per year.

“I should have the freedom to choose how I take care of my personal health,” said Single, whose opt-out request was declined.

Students with coverage through a family member or spouse have the opportunity to opt out of the plan and recover the fee if they have “similar benefits,” according to the link on the RSU website. Single submitted an out of province health insurance policy and expressed his intention to personally pay for additional expenses. However, he was unable to prove that he is sufficiently covered and his request was declined.

Single isn’t convinced that he needs coverage for items like custom foot orthotics.

“OHIP covers all the basics, anything beyond that should be up to the students, not shoved down their throats by the student’s union,” he said.

Armed with a video camera, Single served RSU President Toby Whitfield with court documents on Dec. 10. Whitfield allegedly called security services, claiming he was being harassed by Single.

“Some of our staff didn’t feel comfortable being videotaped. There was a back and fourth about that,” said Whitfield.

Last March, Single introduced a bylaw amendment motion at the RSU Annual General Meeting that would allow students to opt out of the RSU entirely, a move he now admits would be “virtually impossible.”

The $110 annual fee that students pay for RSU and Canadian Federation of Students membership supports campus groups like CKLN, the Eyeopener, and the Used Book Store. Despite the set back, he sees the health plan issue as a practical first step. Single’s case against the RSU is not a class action and is not intended to set any kind of official precedent.

“I’m not convinced I will win, but I do want to open the eyes of students. What the RSU does is not always in their best interest.”

Photo: Marta Iwanek

Comments

  1. ” … “Some of our staff didn’t feel comfortable being videotaped. …

    Hmmm , I wonder them what i should do with my collection of images of them in various activities. Never mind, I have a idea .

    Poor Whitfield, having to spend his last few remaining months as RSU dictator before moving onto his CFS appointment in Ottawa in June. Hey , Toby, a suggestion if I may, don’t start packing just yet.

  2. This is not new, it happened in 2006 in BC against UBC AMS and the case failed:

    http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/sc/06/06/2006bcsc0659.htm

    The bigger issue in my mind is not the existence of a mandatory Health and Dental plan for students in and of itself, but instead whether students can confidently say their student union is properly tendering these contracts to ensure a competitive price and quality of service on them.

    Ryerson may have had bad experiences before with other companies, but they should really be putting out their CFS health and Dental plan out to market tender whenever they can. If student unions don’t do this, then I can almost guarantee you that over time neglect of the plan will result in the student union getting taken advantage of by plan service providers.

    1. And what if some students need more coverage than others? Could one student transfer his plan to another student who needs it?
      Not that I know of, but I am sure some students, who need the coverage would be willing to pay an additional $290 for the 750 dollar coverage. I myself would most definitely.
      Also, the dental plan is absolutely horrendous. 2 units per year for a cleaning when dentists recommend 4 units every 6 months with reason. I think the RSU plan should give students the choice on what they need to be covered at the start of the semester. What do i need $500 for masage therapy for….

  3. Kelsey,

    The entire plan was fully tendered two years ago as per the direction of the membership – which is the highest decision making body.

    The Board of Directors – which is elected by the membership on an annual basis – approves the Health and Dental plan on an annual basis.

    Thanks for your comments.

  4. Good for Single. I’m tired of Ryerson stealing my money on behalf of a private insurance scheme. Universal health care negates the need for mandatory private insurance. Ryerson is acting like a corporate thief that bullies its patrons into purchasing unwanted products and services.

    1. It isn’t Ryerson, well, it isn’t fully Ryerson. It’s the RSU United… But I really can’t agree with you more. I had no idea about any of this stuff.

  5. And considering that Ryerson employs cctv security cameras to constantly monitor students, I’d say that Whitfield is an outright hypocrite.

  6. To ” STUDENT ” its not the university that is at fault here but the STUDENT UNION. They pay close to 400K a year to be a member of some bone head organization called the CFS which gives us NOTHING , use their favored companies to deal with, waste OUR money on pathetic protests and of course try and ban students who expose them for who they really are. Hey Whitfield , newsflash for ya dude, you’re a public figure , getting filmed is part of the deal.

    Hmmm speaking of filming, i am still wondering what happened to the SAFE that went missing from a locked secure office to which supposedly only FOUR persons had the keys to , no signs of forced entry, five security cameras right outside seeing nothing, three more by the exits seeing nothing, security cameras outside seeing nothing, a ” break in ” that just so happened around RSU election time, no alarms going off. Were has the money and safe gone to ?

    1. Prince Vlad, Ryerson collects the fee and is complicit in fleecing its students on behalf of corporate interests.

  7. Student, I am not seeing how the university can be responsible for the spending habits of another organization when, they in fact hand over the levies we pay to the student union, an organization we are trusting to provide services which they claim to provide. Out of those fees, $400,000.00 each and every year are paid out to one organization, the CFS for us to be a member of, but have ZERO voice, ZERO say and ZERO vote. in other words, we pay 400K and get FUCK ALL . Now , how is that good management ?

    now, with respects to your suggestion that corporate interests are the driving force here, yes, and if it were not for these large corporations , we would not enjoy the many new facilities we either now have , or, are in the process of getting. Some left wing protesters seemingly and endlessly want these same corporations to pay huge taxes and such, so , why not allow them to invest that same money in post secondary education instead were they benefit from the tax breaks , and we benefit from the improvements their generosity offers us. Never know you and I may one day be employed by these very same corporations.

    1. Prince Vlad, I could not agree with you more. Every single word you write is enlightening. It infuriates me that we spend over 400k for a radio station i don’t want, protests i don’t care for, and a health plan i have to waste my time opting out of. for fuck’s sake… i had no idea this kind of shit happens. and SERIOUSLY! salaries at 30k each…. i make about 7k working a part time job – and i work my ass off. these execs are essentially stealing our money. the bureaucratic bullshit is not needed here. ryerson needs a change. i really do hope i new group is formed, one to remove these kinds of practices and give us students’ things we actually need and want.

  8. This is an issue with the Ryerson Students Union, not the University itself. The University is legally obligated to hand the money over to the RSU who unfortunately do not have the fiscal responsibility to properly manage it. Just look at the scathing report of the RSU’s mismanagement of Health plan refund cheques: http://www.theeyeopener.com/really-old-archives/index.php?page=21

    The report itself was deemed “confidential” by the RSU so that its member students could not see the truth for themselves.

  9. Its very simple, no human being in any situation should be forced to pay for something they do not want or need.

    The student union uses the threat of students being removed from university for non payment.

    This is akin to the mob getting their collection money for their unneeded/unwanted services.

    Its simply wrong, any arguments?

  10. Alex, you got it exactly . The RSU uses this mob mentality to justify their actions at will because they know that most students will simply forget about it in short order , and simply move on . The money this student union squanders away is mind blowing to say the least . The mismanagement of student funds, the draconian way they administer everything, thier misguided loyalty to the CFS are all issues we as students need to hold them accountable for.

  11. Ryerson University students voted overwhelmingly to institute a members’ health and dental plan.

    One student does not have the right to disadvantage the 10,000+ students who make good use of the health and dental plan.
    This comment has been edited by the moderator.

  12. I don’t mind having this insurance. My problem is that it only covers 80% of my dental and that adds up in the end so I end up not using it at all. I’d rather pay a little more for the insurance so I get 100% coverage. -_-

  13. Too bad this myopic article doesn’t inform readers why they are forced to buy insurance in the first place. It is probably because the Eyeopener is in bed with the CSF, and censors their articles accordingly.

    Good job helping cover-up the Student Union’s large scale theft on behalf of an insurance company.

  14. If only you could see how whiny and absurd these comments seem to American students who would kill for health care and prescription drug coverage for $300 a year.

    This whole system was instituted (much like the Canadian helathcare system) so no one among us would have to suffer the debilitating consequences of an illness they can’t cover the costs of an withdraw from study. For most Ryerson students, the plan covers things like birth control, anti-depressants and dental trips which don’t cost too too much anyways, so I can see how you wouldn’t expect you need these plans.

    When I was in my 3rd year of undergrad, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness, hospitalized for a week, and after about 1,000 tests, released with a prescription for 3 different medicines. When I bought one month’s supply at the pharmacy, the bill came to $568. I was shocked. I didn’t even have enough room on my credit card. I had to ask my boyfriend to pay and pay him back when I got a reimbursement.

    This could happen to you too – can you imagine paying $4,000+ extra during the 8 month school term? Not all of us have parents with good unions or fancy health plans, but having this kind of program allows us to continue studying without worrying about dropping out to work enough to cover the costs of medicine.

    Don’t be so selfish and greedy. Just because you were lucky enough to be born healthy doesn’t mean society doesn’t owe some obligation through the social welfare system to those of us, who through no fault of our own, have higher hills to climb.

    1. EEKS, your point is moot because it is possible to opt out. Not everyone stays in the plan, only those who need it or are too lazy to opt-out. If you have an illness someone else leaving the plan has no effect on you, so why is it necessary for it to be mandatory unless you have comparable health insurance. It should be simple yes or no, would you like this plan or not. If no that is it, no proof of comparable heath care necessary.

      By you saying those of us who are healthy should pay for those who are not you are completely missing the debate here. whether other people are a part of it or not, you will continue to receive the same quality of healthcare regardless.

      The whole idea of the RSU is a sham and its disgusting what a select few people with like ideas can mandate on the student populous as a whole, I do not want to support the charities, radio stations, or other projects that you do, so please stop mandating it.

  15. The thought of Toby Whitfield calling security because of a video camera when he earns a salary to work in a position which demands public visibility tickles my funny bone. Keep using those campus resources effectively!

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