Applying for A Position At UBC

Q: “How do I apply for a postdoc position at UBC?”
A: The best way to find a postdoc position at UBC is to directly contact the particular faculty member you would like to work with. You should customize your application to the researcher and discuss why you would like to work in their lab, and how your training and skills would fit with their research program, as well as what skills and training you would like to learn from them. It is also possible to directly contact specific departments to determine if they have any faculty members that are currently hiring postdocs. Additionally, the UBC Postdoctoral Fellows Office has additional information on how to apply for postdoc positions on campus on their website.

Q: “How long do postdoc positions last at UBC?”
A: Most postdoc positions on campus are 1-3 years in length. Shorter postdocs are possible, depending on both the supervisor and the project, however postdocs lasting less than one year are not eligible for benefits. Generally you will be appointed for one year at a time. The appointment can then be renewed one year at a time, normally up to 3 years. With the Dean’s written approval, appointments may be extended for a further two one-year terms – you can remain a postdoc at UBC for a maximum of 5 years. Further information on postdoc appointments and benefits can be found on the postdoc page of the Human Resources website, and in University Policy #61.

Finances, tax and benefits

Q: “What do I have to do to get paid?”
A: If you’re an employee, and paid by UBC, you need to fill out the payroll/benefits forms in your welcome package. This includes a direct deposit form, which you can put your bank account details. You will need to have been registered by your department so that you have an employment ID, and it can all take a few weeks. When it’s sorted you should get paid twice a month.

Q: “Can you recommend a bank account?”
A: All the major banks have branches in Vancouver. Several have branches on UBC campus, which might be most convenient (CIBC, Bank of Montreal). Opening an account is normally easy, and you’ll need some ID and preferably something to prove your being paid (by UBC or a fellowship). Most accounts charge a (small) monthly fee, which will usually cover a certain number of transactions (e.g. withdrawals) a month, some accounts refund this if your balance is kept above a certain amount.

Q: “Help, I’m not getting paid much!”
A: Yeah, it sucks! Is this really all a PhD is worth?! Having said that, postdocs are seen as trainees in Canada and you should be getting enough to live on comfortably. The general consensus seems to be that, internationally speaking, Canadian postdoc earnings fall somewhere in the middle (less than the US, more than many places in Europe). Vancouver is an expensive city which means, compared to other places in Canada, your money may not go as far.

Q: “Do postdocs pay (income) tax?”
A: Yes. Starting in 2010, all postdocs, including those on fellowships,  have to pay tax. The situation was a little bit ambiguous before, as postdocs at some universities had to pay tax (e.g. at UBC), whereas other universities found a way around. However, this year the government decided that all postdocs in Canada have to pay tax. The Canada Revenue Agency is pretty clear that you have to be taking paid tuition to be exempt, so all postdocs are required to pay tax.

Q: “Do I have to file a tax return? How do I do that?”
A: Yes, pretty much everyone has to do a tax return in Canada. Plus, it’s worth your while as often postdocs are not earning much, and so you may well end up getting tax back at the end of the year. There’s lots of (not particularly easy to understand) information on the CRA website explaining the system. The tax return is due at the end of April, and in February or March you should get a T4 or T4A form which you need to fill out the return. The tax package can be picked up at any post office (including the OutPost in the SUB, if they haven’t run out). The CRA have also run introduction sessions on tax (through the International House) at around this time, and there might be one organised just for postdocs if there is interest.

Have other questions?

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