VPFO Monday Update

Last week’s updates from UBC

General updates about UBC and its response to COVID-19 continue to be updated at covid19.ubc.ca.

Department updates

Facilities – Building Operations, Energy & Water Services, Infrastructure Development

  • John’s Blog: John Metras has drafted a thank you for your ongoing commitment and perseverance adapting to the current realities with COVID-19. Read John’s blog, Facilities Today, on the Facilities website.
  • Research continues to be active on campus: Building Operations and Energy & Water Services is prioritizing and responding to maintenance and operations work/requests for buildings that have research activity.
  • Shared vehicles on campus: Employees are encouraged to walk rather than drive whenever possible. If a shared vehicle must be used, there should only be ONE person in a UBC vehicle at a time. Wash your hands before entering and after exiting the vehicle and avoid touching your face. Drivers are responsible for signing out disinfectant from USB Stores and wiping down all surfaces that may be touched before or after driving.
  • Run the water until it runs cold: As many buildings on campus have reduced occupancy, this is an important step before drinking or using water for food preparation. This will ensure the water is kept fresh for use and stagnant water is flushed from the building’s pipe network system. As always, do not use hot water for food preparation/consumption. Learn more about drinking water quality here.


 Finance – Comptroller, Finance & Operational Excellence, Treasury

  • FinOps/OpEx Strategic Activities: Financial Operations and Operational Excellence are initiating forward-focused planning activities, including documenting emergency response plans and proactively generating project plans for the period following Year End.
  • Financial Operations Front Desk Hours: Financial operations has changed their front desk operating hours to 8:30 am to 11:00 am, Monday to Friday. Visitors are encouraged to only come to the physical office if absolutely necessary, and to call 604-822-2187 prior to visiting to arrange a time.
  • Brinks has reduced their secure pick-up from a daily service to a weekly service: They will be picking up from the FinOps TEF3 location each Thursday at 10:00 am.
  • Cheque Printing: Please note that cheque printing in Financial Operations is no longer running daily. Cheques are printed/processed on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • Year End: The Year End process for fiscal 19/20 continues on the revised schedule. Thank you to the Accounts Payable, Financial Reporting, and Financial Systems teams, as well as the distributed finance teams from across UBC, for their hard work and dedication this cycle.
  • COVID-19 Financial Impact Analysis: The Steering Committee for this work — which includes leadership from across UBC as well as Peter Smailes, Karamjeet Heer, and Rob Einarson from the VPFO — has begun meeting on a weekly basis. The Steering Committee is responsible for oversight and direction as well as reviewing and approving actions and next steps, while various working groups across UBC also meet weekly (engaging with subject matter experts as required) to review financial impacts on various revenue sources.
  • COVID-19 Cost Tracking: A new cost center has been set up to track costs relating to COVID-19, and guidelines have been distributed to UBC’s Finance Officers. Tracking has begun across the organization.
  • Operational Excellence: The OE team is assisting the EOC in mapping and streamlining processes. These maps, which are a classic Continuous Improvement tool, help clarify roles and provide clarity around gaps that need to be resolved. The team is also developing forms, spreadsheets, and record repositories to optimize the processes designed to manage UBC’s COVID-19 response.
  • Regular Finance Meetings: Treasury leadership meets each Tuesday, and Financial Operations and Operational Excellence are currently holding a meeting with leadership, managers, and team leads each Thursday. The Comptroller’s team is also holding a weekly Thursday meeting, and the full Treasury group will be connecting on April 15th.


Operations & Advising – Communications & Engagement and Human Resources

  • Regular C&E Meetings: Communications & Engagement, in addition to participating in leadership and DOC meetings across the portfolio, meets each workday at 3:30 and participates in the EOC working group on MWF at 9:30. Please feel welcome to add something to our agenda. Send it to communications@vpfo.ubc.ca at any time.
  • New Mental Health Supports: Central Human resources has added new tools to support building mental health: for managers, heads and deans or for staff and faculty.
  • VPFO HR on-site support schedule this week:
    • April 14: Alena Martin, Gregor MacDonald
    • April 15: Arvind Kang, Kasia Bursa
    • April 16: Liana Chang, Rachel Lau, Elliott Campbell
    • April 17: Matt Furgal, Kasia Bursa
  • Workday training rollout: HR is starting to meet with departments to ensure we have our Workday training plans accurately aligned against security roles.


Safety & Risk Services

  • Safe Working Consultations: Safety & Risk services are offering Safe Working Consultations for all departments currently operating on campus. These face-to-face or online sessions provide advice on how employees can continue their operational duties while minimizing the risk of COVID-19 infection. They also provide an opportunity to ask any COVID-19 related questions you might have. To arrange a session for your team, please email ready.ubc@ubc.ca.
  • Personal Protective Equipment: There is currently a global shortage in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), e.g. protective masks and gloves, due to the impact the COVID-19 situation is having on supply chains. If you are aware of any PPE supplies at UBC that are currently not being used and could be recirculated around campus please email critical.supply@ubc.ca . For more information and updates on PPE best-practices visit srs.ubc.ca/covid19.
  • A Note on Elevated Risk: If you encounter an area or situation that appears to have an elevated risk of contact with COVID-19, leave the area immediately and contact your supervisor for assistance. If your staff member reports an elevated risk to you, please contact ready.ubc@ubc.ca for next steps.
  • EOC Scales Back Activity: In an effort to ease the draw on operational capacity, and in recognition of the need to focus resources on planning for the next phase of UBC’s response, the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has scaled back activity. This will include a reduction in the number of EOC briefings and attendee numbers, and in operational hours at the EOC physical location. As events unfold and as re-entry to campus begins the scaling back up of EOC activity is fully anticipated.


Other notable updates


From Peter Smailes, Vice-President, Finance & Operations: When there’s so much change and challenge I believe it’s important to both “take time for you” and to stay socially connected. For me that’s meant a lot of time on Zoom and making sure I take a break for lunch each day.

I was thinking that it would be great to combine those ideas. While it would be nice to have lunch with everyone, I know that is logistically impossible… but I want to try an idea. I would like us all to have lunch together on April 21st by self organizing into teams and groups across the VPFO and hosting fun, themed, virtual lunches using Zoom. Read more about how to join Peter.


Based on the Provincial definitions, the province will determine whether a staff member will qualify. Applications can be made on the West Coast Child Care Resource Centre website. For more information, visit UBC Child Care Services.


At UBC we have a wide variety of training, both mandatory and optional, that Safety & Risk Services provides for us. Now is the perfect time to review your training with your supervisor and take the latest training online. See what’s available on the Safety & Risk Services website.

Starting tomorrow, April 15, HR is launching The Workplace Learning Ecosystem (WPL).  WPL is a centralized, searchable catalogue of learning and training offered to UBC employees. The Workplace Learning Ecosystem can be accessed at wpl.ubc.ca. Questions? Contact wpl.support@ubc.ca.


“…For those who are continuing to deliver core services, I applaud all that you are doing to keep students and staff safe and healthy in the midst of an evolving situation. You worked around the clock to quickly transition to online or alternative delivery methods, and I am confident your swift actions helped reduce the risk for the hundreds of thousands of students, faculty and staff in every corner of the province. Whether it is supporting students, providing housing or food services, or keeping the lights on and the buildings clean – you are at the frontline of B.C.’s post-secondary system. Please know that I see you for the heroes that you are…” Read her full message [PDF].


“It is great to get this snapshot of what’s happening…and be directed to things that may otherwise be glossed over in the busyness of the week. Particularly looking forward to joining others in the fitness challenge, and appreciate the links to resources of both professional and personal natures. Listening to the Queen’s address yesterday, I was reminded of the British mantra which I am sure many of late have thought on…Keep Calm and Carry On. Thanks (again) for helping us remain sane by consolidating these important messages into one place!”

Helpful news

People have been suggesting news articles that they have found informative or helpful at work. These are provided for information and entertainment only. Unless noted, UBC doesn’t specifically endorse or supply editorial to this content.

Sharing an article that may be helpful to your peers? Send it to communications@vpfo.ubc.ca at any time.