GSA Parental Leave Grant

GSA Parental Leave Grant


The GSA Parental Leave Grant is designed to provide financial support for full-time and part-time Masters and PhD students who require academic leave for parental leave or other family-related issues. Only those students that were granted academic leave for parental/family-related issues are eligible to apply for the Parental Leave Grant. To be considered for the grant, applicants must demonstrate financial need, not be receiving other forms of leave pay, and show proof of registration for two terms prior to the start of the leave.

The GSA Family Leave Grant is for a one-time amount of $1,000.

Applications will not be processed until all required documentation has been received. Photocopies are acceptable since documentation will not be returned.

Students will be deemed ineligible for this grant where:

  • They are receiving Tri-Council paid parental leave.
  • They are receiving CUPE 3906 paid parental leave.
  • They are receiving Employment Insurance maternity or parental leave benefits.
  • They have previously received this grant or a GSA Emergency Grant for the same family-related purpose.
  • They cannot demonstrate financial need.

On the application form, you will be asked to provide:

  1. Academic and employment information for yourself.
  2. Your gross yearly household income for the previous 12 months (for example, if you are applying in September 2024, please provide 12 months of income from September 2023 to August 2024);
  3. Documentation of approved academic leave for parental/family-related issues;
  4. The names and ages of all your children.

Please note:

The family leave grant applications sent from May to November of each academic year will be reviewed in November, and subsequent applications sent in from December to April will be reviewed in April.

Funds are not guaranteed – the amount available may be exhausted at any time before the end of the academic year.

If funds are not exhausted by the end of the fiscal year, applications sent within this time frame will be reconsidered based on financial need.

GSA Elections: Executive Officer Candidates

The 2024 GSA Elections is currently ongoing! Read each candidate statement below to inform your vote! The election polls will open on March 11th at 10:00 AM and close on March 13th at 6:00 PM.


Candidate: Kusum Bhatta

Kusum Bhatta’s statement


Candidate: Li Ping Song

Li Ping Song’s statement


Candidates: Abhay Chopra and Farha Haider

Abhay Chopra’s statement

Farha Haider’s statement


Candidate: Mason Fitzpatrick

Mason Fitzpatrick’s statement


Candidates: Ologun Olakunle Oluwakorede and Patrick Sauriol

Ologun Olakunle Oluwakorede’s statement

Patrick Sauriol’s statement

GSA Statement on Ceasefire in Gaza

The Graduate Students Association continues to strongly support the international calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. We recognize the devasting impacts of the current events on Palestinian, Israeli, Muslim, Jewish and Arab students in our campus community, some of which have been directly impacted by the ongoing violence in Palestine and Israel. We grieve the devastating loss of thousands of innocent lives and there can be no moral or ethical justification for the deliberate killing of civilians, regardless of the circumstances. We also unequivocally condemn the growing amount of antisemitism and Islamophobia being displayed locally and internationally, and we are here to support and provide a safe and inclusive environment for all our students.

The atrocities perpetrated by Hamas on innocent civilians, international students and migrant workers in Israel on the 7th of October amount to unspeakable crimes. However, these acts do not justify the daily committal of abhorrent war crimes by the Israeli authorities against Palestinian civilians. These indiscriminate attacks and war crimes amount to collective punishment to the people of Gaza who since 2007 have been illegally blocked in by land, sea and air by the Israeli government.

We echo the calls by leading human rights organizations for an immediate ceasefire to protect the innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza and we reiterate the calls for the end of unlawful attacks on civilians in the West Bank. We also join calls to prevent the arming of the Israeli state and the companies involved in the infrastructure of blockade. We urge the international community to work together to address the root causes of the conflict, including through the dismantling of Israel’s system of apartheid against all Palestinians. We advocate for diplomatic efforts that prioritize the well-being of all the civilians to establish a just and lasting resolution in the region.

In our local community, the GSA is committed to providing a safe, supportive, and inclusive environment for all our graduate students irrespective of race, ethnicity, or religious beliefs. We strongly condemn any acts of violence, discrimination, or hate towards any individual. We reiterate that there is no room for antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism, harassment, and discrimination of any kind within our campus, local community and beyond. In these challenging times, we sincerely encourage our students to demonstrate empathy and kindness, uphold respect for one another and prioritize each other’s well-being. Let us all continue to uphold these values to our fellow students and community members to ensure our collective well-being.

GSA urges students to prioritize their mental health and wellness during this difficult time. If you or someone you know needs support, we encourage you to seek mental health and wellness support available through Conversation and the Student Wellness Centre.

This statement was put forward to the GSA Council for voting on November 27, 2023 after multiple consultations with the GSA Council and the GSA Board after the Student Issues Actions Committee Meeting on October 12, 2023. This statement was approved by the GSA Council after a majority vote on Monday, November 27, 2023.

New GSA Health & Dental Plan Insurer

We are excited to announce an insurer transition for the GSA Health & Dental Plan. Effective Sept. 1, 2023, the GSA Health & Dental Plan insurer will change from Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada to Securian Canada (Canadian Premier Life Insurance Company). Eligible students will continue to have access to health and well-being support through the health, dental, vision, and travel benefits covered by the Plan.


Starting Sept. 1, 2023:

  • New Insurer: Securian Canada
  • New Group Number/Prefix for health & dental claims: MUG
  • New Member ID: MUG + Your 9-digit Student ID + 00 (e.g. MUG123456789-00)
  • IMPORTANT: Please make sure to update this information at your pharmacy and/or eligible provider clinics for Sept. 1, 2023.The GSA and its partners are working to ensure a smooth transition with minimal disruptions. This transition comes with the exciting introduction of an enhanced web and mobile platform that will make managing coverage more convenient and efficient than ever before. Key features of the enhanced platform include:
  •  Claim Submission: The new platform allows users to effortlessly submit claims online, eliminating the need for paper forms and lengthy processes.
  • Drug Look-Up Tool: A user-friendly tool for looking up the coverage status of prescription drugs under the GSA Plan will be at your fingertips.Note that the Studentcare mobile app will no longer be available as of Sept. 1st, 2023. Please make sure to save any important information (e.g. sent claims history) currently stored there, as you will no longer be able to access it on the app.IMPORTANT: All eligible GSA Plan claims and services (including Pay-Direct) rendered on or after Sept. 1, 2023 must be submitted to the new insurer, Securian Canada, using the new Group Number/Prefix above.

    For eligible health, dental, and vision services rendered during the current 2022-2023 policy year (between Sept. 1, 2022 and Aug. 31, 2023), students covered by the Plan have until Oct. 31, 2023 to submit their claims to Sun Life.

    As the transition is currently our primary focus, please look out for future updates. Details will be provided to students via email and other campus channels. For more information about the insurer transition, how to claim, and the enhanced web and mobile platform, please visit

    For any inquiries, you can also contact the Plan administrator Studentcare by visiting the Assistance Centre at

Statement in Response to Recent University of Waterloo Assault

GSA Statement in Response to University of Waterloo Assault

The GSA is deeply saddened and disturbed by the recent gender-based violence attacks that have taken place at the University of Waterloo on Thursday 29th June 2023. We strongly condemn these acts of violence, which have caused immeasurable harm to individuals within our academic community.

Gender-based violence is a repulsive violation of human rights and an affront to the values of equality, respect, and inclusivity that we hold dear as graduate students and members of Canadian society. Universities should be safe spaces where students and academics, regardless of their gender, can learn, grow, and thrive. These attacks not only undermine the physical and emotional well-being of survivors but also erode the trust and sense of security within the entire university community.

We stand in solidarity with the survivors, and we extend our heartfelt support to them during this difficult time. It is essential that their voices be heard, and that they receive the care, assistance, and justice they deserve. If you have been affected by these events, please visit our resources:
Student Wellness Centre

Sudan Solidarity Statement

Sudan Solidarity Statement

Sudan Solidarity Post-1

The McMaster Graduate Student Association stands in solidarity with the citizens of Sudan who have been affected by the ongoing conflict and violence between the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces. This conflict has severely impacted the well-being and safety of civilians particularly in the city of Khartoum. The GSA recognizes the struggles faced by the Sudanese people and support their calls to end the violence between these opposing forces.

We recognize that for graduate students who are from or have connections to Sudan, the current events may be particularly challenging and distressing. The GSA extends this solidary to other members of our local community who have loved ones directly impacted by these events.

For any graduate students who may be affected by the conflict and, the GSA encourages you to use our mental health supports including:


Student Wellness Centre

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  


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