Tony Clement and the fight over sick days

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wants cut back on government sick days



The big battle between Treasury Board Minister Tony Clement and the federal public service over sick days is really cranking up.


There are more than 250,000 public servants in Canada. Billions of dollars are at stake. Public servants could take a beating if Clement gets his way.

Jean-Denis Fréchette, the Parliamentary Budget Officer wrote an impartial report on the fight. He says that the public servants recorded about 12 days of sick days per employee per year.

Clement says “No way.” It’s more like 18 sick days per year. Fréchette says Clement’s figures are “puffed up.”

He says Clement included sick days of people on long-term disability in his numbers and also included unpaid sick days of some employees. That’s how he got the 18 days a year number.

Clement says he wants to make changes in the number of sick days a year public servants can take in the collective agreement currently under negotiation with officials.

It’s obvious the changes Clement has in mind won’t do anything great for public servants.

Statistics Canada wrote up its own report on the issue.

It says the demographics in the public service are "unique" and quite different from the work force in private sector that Clement keeps using for comparison.

For example, the average worker in the public service is older than in the private sector, and older workers tend to mean more absences due to illness and more serious illnesses.

There are a higher proportion of women in the public service than in the private sector and more women generally means more sick days than in the private sector.

Clement is not about to give up cutting back on public service sick days.  He is working under orders from his boss Stephen Harper to cut the number of public servants by 19,000 people this year, or at least to reduce their salaries and benefits by an amount equal to their salaries.

Public service unions are saying that years of spending cuts by the Conservative government have destroyed morale, increased workloads and caused workplace stress causing more workers to take more sick days.

Clement says that is " ridiculous" and that he’s not responsible in any way for increased workloads, workplace stress or causing more sick days.


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