Diversity, sustainability and improving care for LGBTQ2S+ students are priorities in the extended contract the students’ union are signing with their health insurance company.
Studentcare is the largest provider for student health and dental insurance plans in Canada and has worked with the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union for 20 years. Their partnership will soon be extended, as the USSU is set to sign a contract in April that will run through to August 2028.
The renewed contract comes with additional incentives from Studentcare, including a $10,000 grant for a diversity project and a social strategy co-ordinator to work with the LGBTQ2S+ community in mental health services.
With the contract set to expire, the USSU consulted with Studentcare about an extension instead of looking at other options on the market. The USSU also conducted a survey in 2019 that showed that 93 per cent of students supported the decision to continue coverage.
Autumn LaRose-Smith, vice-president student affairs, says the decision to extend is due to their good working relationship with the company.
“We asked them questions on how they can better their services [and] we asked questions with regards to their commitment to sustainability,” LaRose-Smith said. “Ultimately, the decision to re-sign with them was through those interactions and what they’re willing to bring forward.”
LaRose-Smith says it is important to have a positive working relationship and aligning values with the students’ health care provider. She says Studentcare has shown a commitment to LGBTQ2S+ inclusion.
“It’s already set up that you can use gender-neutral pronouns and your chosen names, which is something quite unique for an insurance company,” LaRose-Smith said. “They align with the morals and values of the USSU.”
The USSU is excited about the add-on incentives to their contract with Studentcare, which are targeted to helping meet the needs of the diverse student body.
LaRose-Smith works closely with Studentcare in her position. She says the USSU and Studentcare’s 20-year professional history helped influence the decision.
“I honestly have full trust in their abilities as an organization and they have a great working relationship with the USSU,” said LaRose-Smith. “We were one of their first clients.”
The USSU will continue to work closely with Studentcare in determining what services to provide and how to provide them. LaRose-Smith says that when the USSU brings a request or a suggestion to Studentcare, their response is “Let’s make it happen.”
“I think if there were ever an issue with them, I think it could easily be resolved,” LaRose-Smith said.
Studentcare has also made a commitment to simplifying the opt-in option for students who start their studies in the winter term, which is an issue that students have reported to the USSU.
Studentcare will continue leasing their office on campus in Place Riel. The office is open to students if they need help with forms, late opt-ins or have other questions, and is expected to stay put for the full term of the extended contract.
LaRose-Smith is looking forward to the union’s extended partnership with Studentcare.
“[I’m] really excited to see what new things that they can bring forward with the future executives as well,” LaRose-Smith said.
Photo: Kienan Ashton