Each month, our Advocacy Committee answers your questions about the AD 10 policies (aka, your terms and conditions of employment.)

Hello, I’m Laya Behbahani, the chair of APSA’s Advocacy Committee. On behalf of the committee, I’m answering your questions about elective surgeries and sick leave.

Questions? Submit them anonymously here. This question will be answered in a monthly advocacy corner issue. For an immediate answer, please contact us.


I have to have an elective surgery at the hospital, it’s not cosmetic or dental surgery. Do I have to take vacation days or is this covered under sick leave?

An elective surgery is a surgery that can be scheduled in advance and can be done safely at a later time. The other type of surgery is emergency surgery, which is unscheduled and must be done immediately.

Calling a surgery “elective” makes it sound like it’s optional, but that’s not the case. Very necessary medical procedures are also called "elective" or "scheduled," including surgeries for cancer patients and heart surgery.

A good rule of thumb is that if it's covered under MSP (i.e. you don't have to pay for the medical surgery), then it can be taken as sick leave. The situation that you describe sounds like you would be covered by sick leave. I'd recommend speaking to APSA about dental or cosmetic surgery, if either of these are upcoming for you. 

Your doctor will recommend the amount of recovery time that's needed for the surgery and this can also be conveyed to your supervisor via the Wellness and Recovery Office in Human Resources. If your surgery includes a hospital stay, Pacific Blue Cross does cover things like private and semi-private hospital rooms for both acute and extended care during your stay.

If recovering from your procedure become a long-term issue, please speak to APSA so that we can support you if you need an extended medical leave. SFU's procedures are also on their HR website.