Are McMaster students eligible for opt-out?

  1. City will reimburse the UCTP fee received by City with regard to a Student where such Student wishes to opt-out of the University/College Transit Pass program, provided that such Student submits an application to “opt-out” in accordance with section 2 below and meets the following criteria:


  1. The Student is a Student as defined in Section 1 of the Agreement;
  2. The Student is not required to attend McMaster University on a regular basis (being less than ten (10) times per academic year);
  3.  The Student does not live in any of the following areas:
  • City of Hamilton
  • Any part of the Greater Toronto Area
  • Region of Niagara
  • Region of Waterloo
  • Town of Norfolk
  • Town of Haldimand
  • County of Brant
  • Guelph/Eramosa Township
  • Oxford County
  • Any other area serviced by GO Transit
  1. Applications for opting out of the University/College Transit Pass program and for UCTP fee reimbursement must be made, in writing, to and received by City on or before October 31st of the applicable academic year at the following address:

City of Hamilton

Transportation Division

Attn.:  Supervisor of Fare Revenue

2200 Upper James Street

Mount Hope, ON L0R 1W0

The Student applying to opt out of the University/College Transit Pass program must include in his or her application satisfactory evidence from McMaster University confirming the criteria above has been met.


Cultural Fusion Fiesta! Join in us!

The Cultural Fusion Fiesta is an exciting event that celebrates the rich diversity within our student community. It provides a welcoming platform for students to showcase their unique talents and fosters an inclusive atmosphere that encourages meaningful interactions. This event also serves as an opportunity for both new and returning graduate students to connect and form strong bonds with faculty members.
Date: September 21, 2023
Time: 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Location: McMaster University
Event Highlights:
Celebrate Diversity: The Cultural Fusion Fiesta will honor and celebrate the various cultures, backgrounds, and identities within our student community. It’s a chance to embrace our differences and learn from one another.
Showcase Individual Talents: We invite students to express themselves through various talents such as dancing, singing, acting, storytelling, and any other artistic abilities they possess. This is an opportunity to let their creativity shine.
Foster Inclusivity: Our aim is to create an environment where every participant feels welcomed and valued. The event promotes inclusivity and encourages participation from students of all backgrounds.
Strengthen Community Bonds: By bringing together students from diverse backgrounds, we hope to facilitate meaningful connections and friendships that extend beyond the event.
Connect New and Current Grad Students: The Cultural Fusion Fiesta offers a wonderful chance for new graduate students to connect with their peers who have been part of the community for some time. It’s a supportive way to start their academic journey.
Bridge Faculty and Students: This event also serves as a bridge between faculty members and students, fostering a sense of camaraderie and appreciation within our diverse academic community.
Your participation as the McMaster Tamil Students’ Association (MacTSA) would be a valuable addition to the event, contributing to the vibrant celebration of global traditions.

Health insurance information -Reproductive Health Fund

Under the Reproductive Health Fund, CUPE 3906 Unit 1 members (TAs and RAs in lieu) are able to claim up to $150 in reproductive  health related expenses per academic year. These expenses include but are not limited to, menstrual products, HPV vaccines, prenatal vitamins, OTC Plan B, IUD insertions, transportation to and from reproductive healthcare services etc. As with our Gender Affirmation Fund, we recognize that the financial costs associated with reproductive health may vary greatly from person-to-person.

The Benefits Committee remains committed to working closely with members of the Women’s Committee and Equity Committee to provide fair and equitable access to this fund. If you would like to be a part of this process please reach out to or

Please CLICK HERE for the claim form.

A great news!Gender Affirmation Fund for us!

We are pleased to announce that we are now accepting applications for reimbursement through CUPE 3906’s first-ever Gender Affirmation Fund. We’d like to thank our sister Locals like CUPE 3902 and CUPE 4600, who have led the charge in providing benefits like these to academic workers at U of T and Carleton, respectively. Their own Trans Funds served as great examples after which we could model our own Gender Affirmation Fund. Many thanks, also, to the trans and nonbinary members of CUPE 3906 who assisted in the creation of this fund and the relevant application materials. Your input has been invaluable to ensuring that the Gender Affirmation Fund addresses the needs of those for whom this benefit is intended.

See below for a detailed overview of the Gender Affirmation Fund, including eligibility criteria and instructions on how to apply. The required claim form can be found .


The Gender Affirmation Fund is a pool of money that was won by the CUPE 3906 Unit 1 bargaining team (representing TAs and RAs in-lieu at McMaster) in their most recent round of collective bargaining with the Employer. Now protected in Article 21 of the Collective Agreement, the Gender Affirmation Fund provides a total of $10,000 per year to help offset the costs involved with various elements of affirming one’s gender. The fund is officially defined by the Employer as a “supplemental benefits fund” that the Union can use “for supplementing benefits entitlements of employees or related purposes as determined by CUPE.” To this end, the Union has committed to dedicating the entirety of these $10,000 annual lump sum payments to supplemental benefits for our Two Spirit, trans, and nonbinary members. Put simply, the purpose of this fund is to help offset the costs associated with gender affirmation – including everyday, medical, administrative, legal, and other expenses.


Any member of CUPE Local 3906, Unit 1 (TAs and Ras in-lieu) who identifies as Two Spirit, trans, or nonbinary.


Given that the total amount of money in the fund ($10,000 per year) that we have to work with is still rather modest, there are limits on how much money any individual member can access. There are over 2 600 Unit 1 members who may be eligible for the fund, and we want to be as equitable as possible and need to balance a meaningful contribution to each person who needs to access the fund, while simultaneously ensuring that there is money in the fund when folks need it.

To this end, in March 2021, the benefits committee voted to increase the annual cap per member to $2000/academic year (September – August), while the lifetime cap is set at $4000.  All claims are subject to availability of funds but we encourage interested members to apply for this fund.  (To inquire about availability of funds please email We hope to increase these caps through future rounds of collective bargaining.


In an effort to protect your confidentiality and make this fund available ASAP, all applications will go directly to our third-party benefits administrator, the Prosure Group, for review. We do hope to create a Gender Affirmation Fund Steering Committee in future years, through which Two Spirit, trans, and nonbinary people will adjudicate the applications; however, to create and rely on such a committee right now – in the context of COVID-19 – would likely cause further delays in getting these funds to our members.

Should the folks at Prosure have questions regarding your application, they may reach out to you directly for clarification. Other concerns may be relayed to our Equity Officer and Benefits Committee without the applicant’s name attached. We have a strong working relationship with Prosure and have brought our account representatives up to speed on the single criterion for eligible expenses, which is explained below.

Please note: You do not need to obtain an “Authorized CUPE rep signature” for the duration of our office closure. 


The financial costs associated with gender affirmation can vary greatly from person to person. That being said, the Union holds an expansive, open definition of what constitutes gender affirmation. There is no predetermined list of eligible or ineligible expenses for reimbursement through this Gender Affirmation Fund. Rather, the fund is intentionally designed to make accessible forms of gender affirmation that are often limited by the strict requirements of OHIP, the CRA, and other employment-based or public forms of funding for Two Spirit, trans, and nonbinary people. The only requirement is that the cost(s) for which you are seeking reimbursement be incurred for the purpose of affirming your gender identity, however you so choose.  We have included some examples for your information below, but again, we wish to emphasize that this list is by no means exhaustive. If you are a Two Spirit, trans, or nonbinary Unit 1 member of CUPE 3906 and wish to seek reimbursement for an expense that is not listed below but was nonetheless incurred as a means of affirming your gender identity, we would strongly encourage you to submit an application.

Some examples of eligible expenses include:

(1) Everyday purchases associated with gender affirmation, such as:

– new wardrobe

– binders

– shapewear

– packers

– makeup

– wigs

(2) Medical procedures, pharmaceuticals, and therapies associated with gender affirmation, especially those not sufficiently covered under the member’s existing health and public insurance plan(s). For example:

– gender-affirming surgeries, including gender-affirming cosmetic surgeries

– hormone replacement therapy (H.R.T.) prescriptions

– fertility treatments

– resilience therapy/gender counselling

– voice/speech therapy

– laser/other forms of hair removal

– For Two Spirit members, this might also include supports accessed through community Elders and traditional medicines (e.g. participation in Two Spirit gatherings, and related travel costs).

(3) Administrative costs associated with changing one’s legal name and/or listed gender marker through the required government channels, and reissuing any official documentation/forms of identification to reflect said change(s). Examples of documentation for re-issue may include, but are not exclusive to:

– passports

– health cards

– driver’s licenses

– debit and credit cards

– academic documents (diplomas, transcripts, awards, etc.)

(4) Costs incurred as a result of transphobic/transmisogynist violences. For example:

– moving expenses

– travel

– legal funds and advice

(5) Procedures for body dysmorphia

  • body sculpting
  • fat reduction in chest
  • etc.


By filling out THIS FORM (please note that, as per above, the yearly limit is $2,000 per member and the lifetime limit per member is $4,000). All applications must include the completed form with the applicant’s signature, as well as any supporting documentation specified therein (e.g. receipts or invoices). You should then submit your complete application package, ideally as a single document, by email to

You may also send a hard copy of your application to the Prosure Group via mail; however, email applications are preferred and likely to be processed faster given the circumstances of COVID-19. Should you choose to apply by mail, the address is below:


2255 Sheppard Avenue East

SUITE 202, Atria 1

Toronto, ON M2J 4Y1


Either by mailed cheque or by direct deposit. Should you choose direct deposit, be sure to submit the additional required paperwork described on the claim form.


Email us! This is our first time offering the Gender Affirmation Fund and we welcome all feedback, particularly from Two Spirit, trans, and nonbinary people. You can reach our Equity Action Officer at Where applicable, your feedback will then be relayed to our Benefits Committee and/or the Prosure Group.

Update for Health Care Spending Account (HCSA)

Health Care Spending Account (HCSA) exists for all TAs and RAs (in lieu).  As a result of our success with collective bargaining in late 2022, we have been able to expand the maximum entitlement for members. Collective Bargaining works! Effective January 30, 2023 (and backdated to September 1, 2022), the maximum entitlement is no $350 per twenty four month period.   (This period is currently calculated retroactively from September 1st of the academic year in which you use up your entitlement.  For example, if you make a $350 claim in November, 2021, the next time you will be eligible to make a claim will be September 1st, 2023, provided you are still a member/meet the eligibility criteria.  The entitlement period is subject to change pending funding.) Previously, the maximum entitlement was $250 per twenty four month period.

The Health Care Spending Account (HCSA) enables members to claim a wide range of medical, dental and pharmaceutical expenses not covered (or inadequately covered) by OHIP, UHIP and student extended health plans administered by the GSA and MSU. Vision care products and services such as glasses, contacts and eye exams will remain eligible expenses.

Click here for a full list of HCSA eligible expenses determined by the Revenue Canada Agency.  You can also visit the CRA’s list of authorized practitioners according to province here.)

**Please note that prescription eye glasses are on the  eligibility list.  They are listed by as: “Vision devices – including eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct eyesight – prescription required.” If you are only getting frames, you need proof from the optometrist that they inserted prescription lenses into the frames.  (They should be able to indicate this on your receipt.)**

This benefit is open to ALL Unit 1 (Teaching Assistants or RA in lieu) members in good standing.  If you hold a TA or RA in lieu contract for the 2022-2023 academic year (September 1st, 2022 to August 31st, 2023), you are be eligible to make a HCSA claim this academic year (provided you have not “maxed out” your entitlement in the past academic year).

Your eligibility for this benefit expires on August 31st of the current academic year, and will not be renewed in September unless you hold a contract for (or have a reasonable expectation to hold a contract for) the next academic year.  (Please note there are some additional limitations to this eligibility period in very rare circumstances.  If you have any questions, please contact

To file a claim,  fill out the form available at the Union office or on our website HERE (This form is a PDF that can be filled out on your computer.)

A Cheque will normally be mailed to the address provided on the claim form in about 4-6 weeks.

Please note that you must normally submit your HSA claim within 60 days of purchase of your health-related product or service. Some exceptions may be possible. For more information, contact


CUPE Delayed Opt-out

CUPE Delayed Opt-out

“Studentcare has not yet received Winter 2023 CUPE lists, therefore we’re not able to confirm who is expecting a GSA Dental Plan refund, and have not sent these refunds to Winter 2023 CUPE students. We are still currently working on this with the University, but not have yet received these lists. At this point, we are actively working on this with the University and GSA but we cannot currently confirm whether or when the GSA Dental Plan refunds will be sent out, but we advise you to confirm your full mailing address to reduce any further delays.”

Syrian Sanctions Statement

Syrian Sanctions Statement


  • Over 50,000 people in Syria and Türkiye were killed and 100,000 injured by devastating earthquakes;
  • Syria was already ravaged by 12 years of war;
  • UN Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, Alena Douhan, condemned sanctions on Syria as “suffocating” in 2022 and called for their “immediate lifting”. She stated: “No reference to good objectives of unilateral sanctions justifies the violation of fundamental human rights. The international community has an obligation of solidarity and assistance to the Syrian people”;
  • The Syrian Arab Red Crescent (2023), which has been entrusted by the Government of Canada to distribute its aid in Syria, also “appeal[ed] for the lifting of the economic embargo”.
  • The United States has suspended some of its sanctions on Syria, in response to the earthquake. “However, [UN experts] wish to recall that such systems of humanitarian carve-outs may not be sufficient to address the long term negative effects of sanctions, as well as business over-compliance with sanctions and financial de-risking” (UN, 2023).
  • Clare Daly (2023), Member of the European Parliament, cautions “thousands more may die” if the embargo against Syria does not end.

The McMaster University Graduate Students Association calls upon the Government of Canada to immediately end sanctions against Syria, urge other sanctioning states to follow suit, and amplify its aid and rescue efforts to all in the region.

McMaster Divest Hunger Strike Letter

McMaster Divest Hunger Strike Letter

David Farrar, President & Vice-Chancellor,

McMaster University, 

Jane Allen, Chair, 

Board of Governors, McMaster University, 

Michael Ferencich, Chair, Investment Pool Committee, 

Board of Governors, McMaster University, 

March 27, 2023

McMaster Students Act on Evidence the University Ignores

The courageous students who are entering the second week of a hunger strike at McMaster University are calling for the university to make evidence-based decisions, the type which McMaster researchers in health policy and other fields have helped to make the global gold standard. The University Board of Governors and administrators have ignored and downplayed these considerations. The students are seeking commitments from the University to quickly exit from its fossil fuel investments, and to stop its installation of natural gas fired generators to produce electricity, given the clear evidence that each adds to global warming and that both compromise society-wide and environmental health.

McMaster researchers are world leaders in the development of evidence-based medical and health policy decision-making, and they have shown this makes medical and societal health practices more effective, safer, more efficient, and more widely available. McMaster’s administrators often and rightly highlight these achievements in their student recruitment and fund-raising campaigns. But they do not practice what they celebrate, damaging the university’s reputation.

Decade-long discussions with student and faculty groups on the divestment of university funds from investments linked to the production and use of fossil fuels have repeatedly been followed by slow incremental declines as well as by increased fossil fuel investments when energy prices rise. The decision last year to install fossil fuel burning generators to produce electricity to meet peak demands was made without a comprehensive public review of alternatives. These decisions adversely affect the health of our campus, city, and society. 

The university is taking the easiest path to increasing its incomes, without making the significant adverse health consequences it is creating a determinant in its decisions. There are energy saving measures other than natural gas fueled generators that offer ways of reducing university peak energy demand and that also make the university eligible for substantial Ontario electricity cost savings. Fossil fuel divestments have been completed much more quickly by numerous other universities, with larger and smaller budgets than McMaster. There are alternative ways of meeting McMaster’s financial goals. 

McMaster’s continuing defence of decisions that damage our individual, family and societal health is irresponsible, including by its own standards. McMaster should heed the students’ call by re-considering its decisions. 

Indeed, McMaster should extend and apply evidence-based decision making not only to its own operations, but by promoting these practices and standards more generally. For example, by demonstrating how all decisions that effect health or climate change should and can incorporate evidence-based knowledge of the health consequences. 

This is a part of the vision the students who are on the hunger strike offer to the university and to all of us. 


Paul Dekar

Harvey Feit

Atif Kubursi

Graeme MacQueen

Don McLean

Gary Purdy

Rama Singh

Don Wells

The signees are an honorary degree recipient, faculty member, emeritus faculty, and former faculty of McMaster University.


Mac Divest,

Simranjeet Singh, President, McMaster Students Union (MSU), 

Caroline Seiler, President McMaster Graduate Student Association, 

Katherine Cuff, President, McMaster University Faculty Association (MUFA),

Susan Birnie, President, McMaster University Retirees Association (MURA), 

Susan Tighe, Provost and Vice President, Academic, 

Steven Moore, Treasurer,

Saher Fazilat, Vice-President (Operations and Finance),  

Karen Mossman, Vice-President (Research),      

Debbie Martin, Acting Vice-President (University Advancement), 

Paul O’Byrne, Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences and Vice-President,

Maureen MacDonald, Dean, Faculty of Science, 

Heather Sheardown, Acting Dean, Faculty of Engineering, 

Jeremiah Hurley, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, 

Pamela Swett, Dean, Faculty of Humanities, 

Khaled Hassanein, Dean, DeGroote School of Business, 


Steve Hranilovic, Dean of Graduate Studies and Vice-Provost,  

Beth Couchman, President, UNIFOR local 5555, 

Jim Quinn, Professor, McMaster,  

Gary Warner, Professor Emeritus, McMaster, Warner, Gary  


The Spec,,

The Globe and Mail, 

CTV, , 

TV Ontario,  



The Narwal,       

The Sil,,

If you would like further information relevant to this letter, please contact Don Wells at 

GSA Annual General Meeting

GSA Annual General Meeting

The GSA Annual General Meeting will be next week on Wednesday, March 29th from 3-4PM hybrid on Zoom and our GSA Office (see map below). If you want to join on Zoom, please register here. If you are interested in coming in-person to our GSA office, please register here for pizza and include any dietary restrictions. Please note, in-person registration is limited so sign up soon!