Education Program FAQ
What types of education courses are available?
The PSAC Education Program in BC consists of three types of courses:
1) Weekend Courses (generally basic courses) put on in each catchment area;
2) BC Wide courses (usually either advanced or in the context of a Union School); and
3) Online Education (synchronous and asynchronous)
- Virtual Courses (synchronous)
- Self-paced Online Education Courses (asynchronous)
Can I apply for any of these courses?
If you are a PSAC member in good standing, you can apply for weekend or advanced courses. Some courses have pre-requisites (identified in the course description on our website). PSAC covers loss of salary, family care expenses and either an education allowance or travel expenses for participants attending courses in accordance with current PSAC policies.
For Online education, all PSAC members, in good standing can apply for the courses offered, in a Virtual Course format, using the online education application. For Virtual Courses at least 3 hours in length, whether during the week or on a weekend, an education per diem and Loss of Salary will be covered by the PSAC.
PSAC will not cover loss of salary or expenses or provide an education per diem for Online Education events that are less than three hours or that are Self-paced Online Education Courses accessed through the OpenEdx platform.
What is a catchment area?
For weekend courses, we have established 5 catchment areas based on the geographic areas set out in the BC Region By-Laws. To make courses feasible in terms of class size, we have amalgamated some of the areas into a larger area. The amalgamations are in brackets below. The five catchment areas are:
- Vancouver Island (North and South Island)
- North (Northwest and Northeast BC)
- Southern Interior
- East Fraser Valley
- Metro (Metro and West Fraser Valley)
Here is a rough map of the catchment areas, members who are unsure of what area they are in or have questions should contact their Regional Office.
How are decisions made about which courses will be held in a catchment area?
The decision regarding what courses are held in each catchment area is usually made based on recommendations from and consultation with the Regional Reps, Local Presidents, Area Councils, BC Regional Council Education Committee, and BC Regional Council geographic coordinators. Also taken into consideration are out of catchment requests for courses, the catchment budget, ongoing activities and human resources. The Regional Education Officer makes the decision which is sent to the Regional Coordinator for approval.Sometimes one catchment area puts on a course that is not offered in other catchment areas. That does not mean that the course automatically becomes a BC wide course.
How are out of catchment applications dealt with?
The existing practice and policy around out of catchment applications is to send a standard response that the application will be sent to the Regional Education Officer for consideration after the application deadline has passed. We give first priority to applicants from within the catchment up until the application deadline. If there is space on the course, then a decision is made taking into consideration, amongst other things, previous training of the applicant, likelihood we will offer the same course in their catchment area within a reasonable period of time and travel costs.
Who makes the decision regarding out of catchment applications?
All applications from out of catchment are referred to the Regional Education Officer who will make a decision. This decision will be referred to the Regional Coordinator for approval. Note: This decision will be made following the application deadline.
Is there other funding available if the PSAC won’t cover out of catchment costs?
There is always an option for a local or component to assist with funding a participant for an out of catchment course.
Should I apply for a course that is not in my catchment area?
Yes. Out of catchment applications are used as part of the analysis of which courses should be held in which catchment areas. If there are a number of applications for a specific course within a catchment area, that course will likely be offered there in the next session.
How often are weekend courses offered?
Each year is split into two sessions: Winter/Spring (January to June) and Fall (September to December). BC generally offers the Talking Union Basics (TUB) and Grievance Handling (GH) at least once per year in each catchment area. Other courses are offered on an as-requested/as-needed basis.
BC Wide Courses
How often are advanced courses offered or Union Schools held?
It depends on the type of course and the demand for the course. For example, Advanced Duty to Accommodate (ADTA), Advanced Representation Training for Stewards (ARTS) and Union Schools are generally held once every 3 years (the education program budget cycle). The West-North Union Development Program (UDP) is now offered once per year and is open to PSAC members in BC, Prairies and North Regions. Other advanced courses may be offered less frequently than once per budget cycle (3 years). Other BC-wide courses are offered only when the need arises. For example, the Our Communities, Our Union, Our Rights: An Introduction To The PSAC For Indigenous Members course.
How are applications for BC-wide courses dealt with?
For BC-wide courses, the application process is different. All applications received by the deadline are considered and decisions are made based on a set of criteria which is pertinent to the specific course. Frequently there are a certain number of spaces allocated by catchment area, for example. We try to have our BC wide courses be representative of the BC membership so we take into account equity seeking groups, educational opportunities and components. Decisions are made in consultation with Regional Reps, the Regional Education Officer and the Regional Coordinator. The Regional Executive Vice-President gives final approval.
Online Education Program
At this time all PSAC Courses have been moved to delivery in a virtual way. These courses may be offered through Regional and National Education programs. These are not online, self-paced, asynchronous courses (courses in which the member completes a course on their own at their own pace and time on the PSAC online education platform), these are courses offered using a virtual platform, where members come together with facilitators for the learning experience.
Examples, include lunch time webinar on Convention Procedures, or a Virtual Talking Union Basic Course offered over a number of days.
For Virtual Courses at least 3 hours in length, whether during the week or on a weekend, an education per diem and Loss of Salary will be covered by the PSAC.
PSAC will not cover loss of salary or expenses or provide an education per diem for Online Education events that are less than three hours.
Self-paced Online Education Courses
How do I take a self-paced online education course?
Our online education program offers self-paced union training that you can access and work through at your convenience and on your own schedule.
PSAC will not cover loss of salary or expenses or provide an education per diem for self-paced online education courses.
These introductory courses provide a solid overview on a range of topics.
- Welcome to Your Union, PSAC
- Precarious Work – a Union Issue
- Virtual Convention Preparation
Sign up for the Online Education Program today and stay tuned as more courses are added in the coming weeks and months. If you don’t have a PSAC Member Portal account yet, create your account now to access our services.
Where can I find more information about Education Subsidies for non-PSAC courses?
What if I have other questions?
Please contact BCEducation@psac-afpc.com or the Vancouver Regional Office