With online polling underway for MSU presidentials, eligible student-voters will also be asked to weigh in on two high-impact referenda items regarding MSU health insurance and HSR bus service.

At the presidential debate on Jan. 27 in the MUSC atrium, candidates discussed which referenda options they would endorse. In addition, Brodka and Wolwowicz were critical of the MSU’s promotion and clarification of the referenda options, echoing some concerns raised at the most recent SRA meeting.

“It’s been a little disappointing to see the sporadic release of information and questions surrounding specifically the health care referendum,” Brodka said at the Jan. 27 debate.

Wolwowicz agreed, saying, “I do think it’s a little unfortunate that the clarifications came very late from the MSU, for at least the last health care referendum option.”

Current MSU president David Campbell said the students union has promoted the referenda by displaying the options on the MSU’s website since December and uploading informational videos last Friday and this week.

“I think that this year, there haven’t been people advocating for the yes or no sides. I think since any information [the MSU] puts out has to be impartial, it means that it’s not always the most engaging material,” Campbell said. “And I think since we haven’t seen a lot of discussion, I sort of sympathize with people who feel they aren’t as informed as they’d like to be.”

Referendum #1: MSU health insurance coverage

Currently, McMaster students taking 18 units or more pay $57.50 for MSU health insurance and $115 for MSU dental insurance, taxes included. If students provide proof of comparable coverage within the opt-out period, the MSU offers a refund of either plan or both.

Last March, the Student Representative Assembly (SRA) passed a motion requiring a student referendum to be called on add-ons to MSU health coverage. Options for expanded coverage extend to vision, oral contraceptives and paramedical care. Nine other students unions in Ontario offer health plans that cost more than $100, according to a report by last year’s SRA social science, who presented the motion.

SRA representatives had a charged debate last year on whether the proposed add-ons would be “tangential” to the emergency care covered in the current health plan. Currently, the plan covers some accidental expenses and some pharmaceutical costs, not covering oral contraceptives. The MSU’s health insurance plan, found in full here, also covers half the cost of one eye exam to a maximum of $50.00.

The health insurance referendum on the ballot will consist of three yes-or-no questions, listed below:

Referendum #2: HSR bus pass 

Members of the MSU currently pay $126 for an 8-month HSR bus pass. As the MSU-HSR agreement expires this February, the students union negotiated with the City of Hamilton over several months to secure options for expanded 51-line service and a 12-month bus pass. Read our coverage of the negotiations here and here.

Unlike the health insurance referendum, the bus pass referendum will consist of five options, not yes-or-no questions. Students will be asked to rank the following options from least (1) to most (5) preferred. Only the bolded text appears on the ballot.

The responses to the HSR bus referendum will be tallied based on preferential voting, the same system used to rank presidential candidates.

Online voting for MSU president and the referenda opened at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 28 and will end at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 30. Students registered in at least 18 units are eligible to vote and should receive a code to vote at https://mcmaster.simplyvoting.com.

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