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June 22nd, 2012:

Friday miscellany…

… absenteeism, heat and, of course, the Del Mastro edition..


There is a lot of talk around this “leaked” document purportedly (I say purportedly, because very few have actually seen it) showing that public servant absenteeism is a BIG problem costing Canadians GAZILLIONS of $$$’s a year!!!

The Sixth Estate commented on this:

Whether you agree with it or not, you should be a little bit cautious about being distracted by what’s obviously a leak from a Conservative insider hoping to change the agenda of the government and shore up its flagging public opinion through a good old war on the bureaucracy. Get it through your head: the Conservatives are not serious about saving public funds spent on labour.

Couldn’t have put it better myself. This has become a classic tactic for the Cons. When things aren’t going quite as they had hoped, divert!

Do public servants have sick days? Yup – 15 each year as it has been reported. Do we use more than in the private sector? Well, I would think so as many, many private sector employees DON’T HAVE THEM! That nice lady who gave you your double-double at the Tim’s drive-through this morning? If she is too sick to work, she doesn’t get paid! Instead, she comes to work sick and passes her germs along to you!

So let’s compare apples and apples, shall we? Do public servants take proportionally more sick days than a comparable private sector worker in a large corporation who DOES have sick days and perhaps other health benefits. I highly doubt it. Now, I’m sure I’ll get a comment from someone saying “well, when I was in the PS I saw, first hand, lots of people who took sick days when they weren’t really sick”. I’m sure you did. But as a statistician, I know that a sample of one might not be representative of the population. I do know that, in my shop, people treat sick days as, well, sick days. If they are too sick to be efficient at work and risk spreading their illness to others, I don’t even want them here!

And, again as a stats guy, show us this report. I’d love to see how these numbers were derived!

Does the sick leave benefit system need reform? Sure it does! It is an old system that has not changed with the times. When it was created, those with cancer usually didn’t come back to work because they were dead inside a year. Now, with modern treatment, many diagnosed with cancer do recover and return to work. The system as it is now does not allow one to take off that time without going on disability unless one has accumulated enough sick leave.

Young or new employees can’t bank enough sick leave to cover recurring or chronic illnesses. At same time healthy older workers who have built up lots of sick leave have to exhaust it all if they fall ill before getting the rehab they need and then the bank is empty if they relapse. Others simply abuse it and feel entitled to use it as leave or holidays as they ease into retirement.

So fine, let’s overhaul the system. But let’s not use the public servant as the whipping boy that the CPC so likes to do!


Dean, Dean, Dean…

OTTAWA — Newly released court documents cast doubt on Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro’s repeated assertion that he was not aware he is being investigated by Elections Canada.

An affidavit filed by Elections Canada investigator Thomas Ritchie says that he was told in December that Del Mastro had promised a Conservative volunteer in Peterborough that the MP would personally “handle the matter.”

Del Mastro, the parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is under investigation for allegedly overspending on the campaign by paying $21,000 to an Ottawa company to contact voters and get-out-the-vote on election day.


Ottawa police are happy to see that more or less all types of crimes are on the decrease in the City.
Of course, this doesn’t include all of those unreported crimes.


The heat has been a hassle this week. Yes, it’s sweaty, tiring, nerves get frayed, but really, isn’t this a prime example of a first world problem?

Not meaning to sound like an old and ratchety man, but I didn’t live in a home with A/C until I first moved to Ottawa – when I was 34! My kids, who have never lived in a place without the luxury, were positively aghast to learn this.


Finally – Rio +20 has wrapped up. One thing that was missing in the final text was anything addressing women’s reproductive rights.

Gro Harlem Brundtland, the former Norwegian prime minister and chairwoman of the Brundtland commission, has criticised the call to action issued by UN Women on Thursday for not including women’s reproductive rights in the text.

Brundtland, a member of the Elders, said omitting a specific reference to reproductive rights represented “a step backwards from previous agreements” on women’s empowerment and gender equality. She also criticised vague wording on gender in the Rio+20 draft outcome document.

The call to action, presented at a high-level event hosted by UN Women and the Brazilian government, reaffirmed signatories’ commitments to equal rights enshrined in the UN charter on human rights. It also reasserted commitments made at UN conferences over the past 20 years, but did not explicitly mention reproductive rights.

I caught this on CBC Radio just a few minutes ago (I’m writing this on the bus, as usual) and there was apparently a lot of pressure put on Latin American countries from, ahem, The Vatican, to exclude any mention of reproductive rights – which his pope-ishness equates with abortion rights.

Not surprising, is it? Putting ancient dogma ahead of the health of women is not all that uncommon for the Vatican, is it?


Canada Post came through

I kinda ragged on the venerable Crown Corp a yesterday. And 99 times out of 100, said ragging doesn’t lead to a response from the target of the rag… no matter who they are. Forget about an actual action aimed at whatever it was that squirmed its way under my skin.

Well, Thursday, June 21, 2012 was the one in a hundred.

Check it out. Within 10 minutes of my blog post cross posting to Twitter, I received this:

@baldjam can you tell me where you’re located so we can look into for you. #canadapostcaresl

Huh? Seriously.


And then later, after a couple of direct messages telling them where I was located, this:

Hi , I received confirmation that your area is undergoing some changes and may experience delays visit for info

Wow. Great customer service AND good use of social media!

Kudos, Canada Post!

And, for the record… got some mail yesterday.