VIHA to reimburse dietitians professional association fees

HSA and the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) have reached an agreement that will see HSA dietitians reimbursed an estimated $100,000 for membership fees paid to Dietitians of Canada since 2003/04.

The settlement is a result of a grievance launched in 2004, when the union pursued member concerns that the employer required membership in good standing in the professional association as a condition of employment, and that individuals must be personally responsible for paying the $150 to $450 annual base membership fee.

Under the terms of the settlement, reached last week, VIHA will reimburse the base membership fee paid by employees who were required to maintain their membership from the 2003/04 to 2006/07 years. Any amounts paid above the base membership fee to the Dietitians of Canada will not be reimbursed.

In order to claim reimbursement for membership fees paid to Dietitians of Canada, members are required to provide the employer with copies of original receipts for membership in Dietitians of Canada. All claims for reimbursement must be made by February 28, 2007.

This agreement is a significant victory for health science professionals, coming on the heels of a similar agreement in October for HSA lab technologists in working VIHA. As a result of that agreement, medical laboratory technologists cannot be required to hold membership standing in the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (the CSMLS). The lab technologist decision did not include reimbursement of previously paid membership fees.

HSA President Cindy Stewart welcomes the two agreements with VIHA.

-HSA has worked closely with professional associations for several years on issues of common concern. The union continues to value the work of professional associations such as Dietitians of Canada and the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science. Many HSA members are active members of their professional associations, which are working nationally to raise awareness about the importance of health science professionals in the health care team, as well as providing services and benefits to private practice professionals.

-However, the professional associations do not have regulatory powers and as membership in them is not required for licensing or certification purposes, being a member is voluntary and should not be a condition of employment," Stewart said.

Frequently asked questions

Am I eligible for reimbursement of Dietitians of Canada membership fees?

If your VIHA employer required you to maintain membership in Dietitians of Canada for the membership years 2003/04, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07 as a condition of employment, you are eligible for reimbursement of the base membership fee. For the 2003/04 membership year, the employer will reimburse one-third of the total annual base membership fee paid. Any amounts paid to Dietitians of Canada above the base membership fee will not be reimbursed.

I have been a member of Dietitians of Canada since 1997/98. Can I claim membership fees back to 1997/98?

No. The terms of this agreement relate to the time period starting with the filing of the grievance on behalf of HSA dietitians in 2004. The membership years for which HSA members are eligible for reimbursement are from 2003/04 to 2006/07. Reimbursement for the 2003/04 membership year will be for one-third of the fees paid, as the grievance period covers only the final third of that membership year.

I am not a member of the Dietitians of Canada, but I do have a membership in the College of Dietitians. Can those membership fees be reimbursed?

No. The terms of this agreement relate to employer-required membership in the professional association ... Dietitians of Canada. The College of Dietitians is a regulatory body that oversees licensing and certification, and membership is mandatory to practice as a registered dietitian.

How do I claim for reimbursement of membership fees?

You are required to provide your VIHA employer with copies of original receipts for membership in Dietitians of Canada to support your claim for reimbursement. It is recommended that you keep copies of your submission for your records.

Your claim must be made by February 28, 2007.

I am a diagnostic imagining technologist. My employer requires me to hold membership in the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists. Can I get my membership fees paid for by my employer?

Currently, HSA-VIHA agreements about mandatory membership in professional associations are in place for dietitians and medical laboratory technologists. If you have questions about your mandatory membership in a professional association, please contact your HSA steward.

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