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Thursday, December 20, 2001

  • One more working day in 2001
  • About out-of-country health insurance
  • I thought you'd like some statistics
Chris Redmond

Academic freedom is under attack, national body says

[He's got glasses] [Little girl holds on]

Santa paid a visit to the staff association's Winterfest earlier this month -- and so did UW president David Johnston, seen above helping a youngster with skating, one of the things he does best. The association has other photos on its web site as well. The staff association office will be closed from noontime today until Monday, January 7; on work days during that time, association president Ed Chrzanowski will be available (phone ext. 6487) to take urgent calls.

One more working day in 2001

Yep, the end is nigh. Today is the last day of fall term exams; tomorrow is the last working day of the year for most staff members and, officially, faculty (though many of the latter will be busy marking those exams over the next two weeks). The Christmas and New Year's break closes the university from tomorrow night until Wednesday morning, January 2. Classes for the winter term will begin January 3.

As students and other clients depart, and with the distractions of pre-holiday parties and such, many UW services are running at less than full speed today and tomorrow. The Modern Languages coffee shop and the Davis Centre "Bon Appetit" cafeteria are both closed now, as is the Ron Eydt Village cafeteria. Mudie's in Village I will serve its last meal of the year tonight. Still open, mostly with limited hours, are Brubakers in the Student Life Centre, Tim Horton's in Modern Languages and the Davis Centre, Pastry Plus in Needles Hall, the PAS Lounge, Browsers in the Dana Porter Library, and Bookends in the bookstore.

And so it goes. The libraries will be open until 11 p.m. tonight; Friday, they'll close at 6 p.m., not to reopen until Wednesday, January 2. The CHIP ("Computing Help and Information Place") will be open until 3:00 today, and until 3:30 tomorrow.

In a demonstration of the Christmas spirit, Janet Metz and Edith Hohendorn of the co-op and career services department have co-ordinated another successful gift drive for needy families. This year 156 children from 85 families will have a brighter Christmas thanks to donations (and support) from staff in CECS, the office of research, the secretariat, the registrar's office, counselling services, human resources and philosophy. Yesterday, CECS was awaiting pickup of the gifts by 17 social workers who will assist Santa in making the deliveries.

The new issue of the human resources newsletter, of which I'll say much more in a moment, includes an announcement about a recent change to the fine print of the life insurance benefit for staff and faculty members, or rather, for their spouses. "The restriction that optional spousal life insurance be no more than the amount of insurance carried by the employee" has been removed, the newsletter says.

Marj Kohli in the information systems and technology department has had to spend a fair amount of time lately warning people on campus about computer viruses -- there have been a lot of them. In a recent memo, she reminds everyone that "if you follow the rules and do not open any attachment with an extension of .exe, .bat, .com, .pif, .scr, then you should be fine." But it's extraordinary how many people do open strange attachments.

And speaking of computer troubles, the IST department says the campus news server "has been experiencing problems for the past several days. These problems appear to be related to some hardware running at excessively high temperatures. The news server has been shut down and restarted, and there is no sign of a recurrence of the hardware problems at the present time. News articles which are not currently available will not be made available locally." All of which means that you may have missed several recent Daily Bulletins. They're available on the web.

The Bulletin hasn't had a full-length interview this year with Egfrth Spleng, the well-known vice-elf (research) at WatClaus. The drop in WatClaus stock which I reported at this time last year has continued, and with staffing reductions Spleng has been too busy to talk to the media. He did announce, however, that the popular Amit Chakma doll is now available in a deluxe model with diversified revenue stream.

About out-of-country health insurance -- a shortened version of an article from the human resources department's on-line newsletter

It's that time of year again when many employees and their dependents may be travelling outside of the country on a winter get-away (lucky you!). One of the valued components of the University of Waterloo's extended health plan through Great West Life is the out-of-country emergency travel assistance benefit.

Please remember that emergency travel coverage with Great West Life is contingent upon maintaining provincial health care. When you travel, your provincial healthcare plan covers you to a certain extent. UW's coverage supplements provincial coverage. The University's out-of-country health insurance covers the reasonable and customary costs of medically necessary services or supplies relating to the treatment of a "medical emergency." Medical emergency is defined as an "unforeseen event." That is, a sudden, unexpected illness or injury or an acute episode of disease requiring immediate medical attention.

General examples are given to help clarify the coverage offered. Please remember that each out-of-country claim is individually adjudicated on its own merits.

MEDEX is an assistance service that offers access 24 hours a day. It is recommended that when emergency medical treatment is needed, you (or an alternate family member) call MEDEX using the toll-free number of the back of the blue MEDEX wallet card. MEDEX can help you locate hospitals, clinics and physicians, arrange medical evacuation if necessary, and verify insurance coverage.

When you or your emergency health care provider calls MEDEX, MEDEX contacts Great West Life to confirm whether your coverage is in force and the levels of benefit coverage. Based on information provided by you at that time, a decision will be communicated to the emergency health care provider as to whether you have coverage. However, MEDEX does not approve the claim or guarantee that the claim will be eligible for reimbursement. In certain circumstances MEDEX can also provide advance payment to the emergency health care provider, subject to Great West Life's approval.

Before leaving the emergency medical facility or care provider's office, please ensure you have clarified who will forward the invoice to Great West Life. Are you paying the invoice and seeking reimbursement? Is the hospital forwarding the bill directly to Great West Life? If so, does the hospital have Great West Life's address on file? the plan number? your ID number? If the hospital is forwarding the bill, you should ask for a copy of the invoice for your files.

How to submit a claim for emergency medical services to Great West Life when the employee or dependent returns home: Two forms are required. The forms are available in Human Resources or online. The first form is an Authorization and Release form that allows Great West Life to co-ordinate benefits with the provincial coverage offered through OHIP. The second form that must be completed is an Out-of-Country Expenses Statement of Claim. These two forms, along with original receipts, should be forwarded to Great West Life Out-of-Country Claims Department, PO Box 6000, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 3A5. If the hospital is billing the carrier directly, you can expect to receive these two forms in the mail from Great West Life for completion before the claim can be adjudicated.

If you have any questions or concerns about out-of-country coverage, please call the Great West Life out-of-country customer contact line at 1-800-957-9777.

If after calling Great West Life you have doubts whether your medical condition would be eligible for health insurance coverage, you may want to consider purchasing individual health insurance. There are at least three options: ETFS (Expert Travel Financial Security) at 1-800-680-3837; INGLE Life & Health at 1-888-446-6772; CARP at 1-888-239-2444. Individuals are encouraged to shop around.

I thought you'd like some statistics

"Ontario is on the verge of experiencing the greatest increase in demand for university opportunities in 30 years," says a statistical report from the Council of Ontario Universities. "Predictions indicate that enrolments in this province are likely to rise by as much as 90,000 or 40% within the next ten years."

The "resource document", based on figures for the year 2000, reminds readers that enrolment is expected to increase "dramatically" for several reasons: secondary school reform leading to the "double cohort" in the fall of 2003, an increase in the population of 18-to-24-year-olds, a projected increase in the participation rate or percentage of young people attending university, and a trend towards more adult learners attending university.

It says, "The pressure to respond to public expectations and student demand will be strongest at precisely those points where the grant reductions of the 1990s have left universities most vulnerable -- in faculty numbers, physical capacity to accommodate increased enrolment, and facilities and resources for teaching, learning and research."

Here are some of the "highlights" listed at the beginning of the report and backed up with 100 pages of charts and tables:

  • Provincial operating grants to Ontario universities were $1,722 million in 2000-01, a 5.0% increase over 1999-00. In constant dollar terms grants in 2000-01 are $562 million, or 24.6%, lower than in 1992-93.
  • In constant dollar terms, provincial operating grants per student decreased by 29% between 1987-88 and 2000-01, while tuition fee revenue per student increased by 117%.
  • Universities' share of the provincial budget dropped steadily from 4.2% in 1987-88 to 2.6% in 1999-00 but improved to 2.8% in 2000-01.
  • Ontario universities have increased their income from donations by 129% and from non-government grants and contacts by 176% in constant dollars since 1987-88.
  • Ontario government funding for universities fell to 10th out of the ten provinces on a per student basis in 2000-01, stayed 10th out of ten on a per capita basis, and remained 10th out of ten on a per personal income basis for the eighth year in a row.
  • Over the past five years -- between 1995-96 and 2000-01 -- state support for post-secondary education increased by an average of 36.7% in US states, while in Ontario provincial support for post-secondary education declined by 2.9%.
  • Since 1987-88 university per client expenditures have grown up by 5% in real terms but in the same period Ontario hospitals have experienced a 73% increase.
  • Since 1987-88, tuition fees for Bachelor of Arts programs in Ontario universities have increased from about $1,500 per year to about $3,900 per year.
  • Tuition and required fees in Ontario universities constitute 15.2% of average personal income, compared with 16.2% for public university tuition and fees in the Great Lakes states.
  • Provincial government spending on financial assistance for Ontario post-secondary students has risen from about $180 million in 1987-88 to almost $868 million in 1999-00.
  • The price of library books and periodicals is increasing more rapidly than library acquisition expenditures, which in turn are increasing more rapidly than total library expenses, which in turn are increasing more rapidly than enrolment.
  • The number of faculty and staff at Ontario universities declined 10% between 1987-88 and 1999-00, while enrolment has increased 18%.
  • Ontario universities have the highest ratio of full-time equivalent students to full-time faculty, and FTE students to FTE faculty in the country.


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