AAPS Memo to Members: UBC Reopening

This memo was emailed to AAPS members on August 9, 2021. If you are an AAPS member and did not receive the memo, please let us know.


Dear AAPS Members,

I hope that you and your families have been able to enjoy the summer.

I know that the past 18 months have been isolating and challenging for you and that many of you are looking forward to a return, at least partially, to on campus activities. I am also aware that many of you are concerned about what you feel are inadequate safety measures being taken by the University, coupled with what appears to be a cavalier attitude by the University regarding the safety of its students, staff, and faculty.

In particular, I have heard that many of you are disappointed by the University's refusal to exceed the minimum standards established by the Provincial Health Officer and the patronizing dismissal of the very real and reasonable concerns raised by our friends at the Alma Mater Society regarding the University's intransigence about exceeding those standards.

Given these concerns, I wanted to take a moment and update you regarding AAPS' advocacy during this time. First, we wanted to determine whether or not the University is simply refusing to exceed the standards of the Provincial Health Officer or whether, for reasons that I cannot possibly fathom, the Province has directed universities not to exceed those standards. Last week AAPS filed Freedom of Information requests with both the University and the provincial government seeking the release of any correspondence between UBC and the following:

  • Premier's Office
  • Ministry of Advanced Education
  • Ministry of Health (including the office of the Provincial Health Officer)
  • Public Sector Employers' Council Secretariat

In this way, we will learn whether the decision not to exceed the minimum standards is the University's or the Province's, and we can target our future advocacy accordingly. As part of this advocacy, we will be advising the University and the Province that, if any AAPS members contract COVID-19 as a result of the decision to reopen the University without mandatory vaccinations and masking, AAPS will pursue any and all legal recourses available to us and our members. While part of seeking recourse will no doubt involve the grievance process, we have also already asked our legal counsel about the possibility of pursuing legal action against both the University and the Province through the courts.

Second, we are launching individual advocacy sessions for AAPS members who feel that their departments' back-to-work plans are not adequately safe. Workers in British Columbia have the right to refuse to work in unsafe conditions. AAPS is more than happy to work with you to determine whether the plans established by your department constitute unsafe working conditions. In the event we believe those conditions are unsafe, we will provide counsel on how to refuse to work in those conditions. As always, we will provide representation in any process the University engages in an attempt to force you to work in unsafe conditions.

Should you wish to take advantage of this service, please complete the Advocacy Request Form and email us your department's back-to-work plan. One of my colleagues will set up an advocacy appointment for you. Please do not email me directly. I am currently receiving a higher than normal volume of communications and will have trouble responding to you in a timely fashion.

We know that the pandemic experience has been different for all members. We know that the returning to worksites process and considerations will be different as well. You have all been working hard to adapt to changes as they arise for your employer, your families, and your communities.

We are doing our best at AAPS to address the breadth of needs of the membership within our organizational and legal constraints. Please remember that if you do not have specific safety concerns but wish to make an appointment to discuss negotiating an ongoing remote work arrangement or have questions about the accommodations process or sick leave, please contact us as well.

Please continue to take good care of yourselves.



Joey Hansen
AAPS Executive Director