In order to mitigate the financial impact that changes to the eligibility criteria for Educational Assistance Payments (EAPs) could have caused, Universitas has put in place a financial mitigation plan of 1, $ 5 million.
“Last fall, we made a commitment to the Autorité des marchés financiers to pay at least $ 1 million to our clients, who were disadvantaged by the easing measures we had provided to our plans. We announce that we surpass our initial commitment to demonstrate that we accompany them, “said Wednesday the President and CEO of Universitas, Isabelle Grenier.
Feeling aggrieved since the change in the way Universitas scholarships were awarded, members of a group of savers had formed in late 2017 to protest against these changes. Some have suggested the possibility of taking legal action against Universitas.
Previously, the allocation meant that children who went to university received three EAPs; those who did not attend university leaving their share of the scholarship to other savers. With the new, more flexible mode of distribution, those who go on to university lose this financial advantage and, like all others, benefit from a single EAP payment as soon as they reach post-secondary education, whose definitions have have been expanded.
The Facebook group “Universitas, a reform that is expensive for small savers”, is followed by more than 4300 people. Some are grouped under the umbrella of the Association of Underwriters and Beneficiaries of Group RESPs (ASBRC).
On its Facebook page, the ASBRC asks to wait a few days before completing the form, because it has been sent to legal advisers.
“By enrolling in the Mitigation Financial Measures Plan, you agree not to undertake or participate in legal proceedings against Universitas, its directors, representatives and agents until the final processing of your application by the independent evaluator. This note, found on the paper version only, is totally unacceptable and we consider this an attempt by Universitas to want to muzzle us in our legal rights. We expect legal advice from our lawyers, “says the association, which estimates that the amount of $ 1.5 million is clearly insufficient.
Isabelle Grenier maintains that no right is flouted by the Universitas proposal.
“People who register to apply for mitigation will not give up any rights. If the customer accepts the measure, it should close the measure for him. No one will be forced to accept an amount, “says Ms. Grenier.
Retired Court Judge Paul Vézina has been appointed as an independent evaluator whose mandate will be to implement this program.
“We have ensured that the amount is objectively distributed by an independent third party. It is Judge Vezina who will determine the number of people who will benefit and to whom these sums will be distributed. The proposed measure aims to reduce the impact for those who will see a real effect on the amount that their child gets. The change in the regime was decided by the majority. The amount of mitigation should be distributed throughout the year to as many as possible, “says Ms. Grenier.
Half a million dollars more than expected
The President and CEO of Universitas mentions that these amounts are drawn from the NPO’s operating budget and surpass by half a million dollars the commitment made. by Universitas in October 2018 following a consultation of its customers on the maintenance of easing.
“Basically, we offer these measures because of the feedback we received during the consultations where people were really dissatisfied. It was important to make the most of the reaction of some customers. The changes were voted by the majority. We are aware that some people are disappointed with the outcome of the vote. The goal is to help those who feel disadvantaged, “says Isabelle Grenier.
Isabelle Grenier can not estimate the number of clients who could benefit from this mitigation measure.
“We talk to customers to invite them to apply. The $ 1.5 million is the maximum that Universitas can offer, “said Ms. Grenier.