Trashy's World Rotating Header Image

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?


Be Sociable, Share!


  1. As an aside, in industry, nobody gets to bank sick leave to cover chronic illness, that’s what disability insurance is for.

  2. 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.

    Yes, lets. Most places I’ve worked for don’t count sick days. You can take them off as you need them. If you abuse them you get fired.

    And in my experience, when a corporate average climbs above 6 or so, HR starts issuing policies. When an individual starts getting over 9, hard questions will be asked, doctor’s notes will be required, and employment may be at risk.

    Taking 12 or 18 days a year means you probably wouldn’t see a year 2 unless you can barf up a lung, and even then, at 15 days you’d probably be put on LTD and see your salary slashed. And the entire idea that you can save sick days for a whole career then be “sick” for your last year before retiring is utterly unheard of in private industry.

    I’ve been in the civil service, and I’ve been in industry. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that civil servants, collectively, treat sick days as vacation and manage them accordingly. Since I’ve worked at DND, Elections, Foreign Affairs, Transport, and Agriculture, I’ve seen a pretty good sample across the civil service.

    Two companies I’ve worked for issued directives when HR felt that people were “managing” their sick time. At one company, it hit when the corporate average was about 6 days per employee. At another company they felt too many people were sick on monday and friday. Where I work now would expect a doctor’s report after 2 sick days in a row.

    I have complete confidence in the veracity of the news article. It’s been a sticking point for me for decades. It’s long past time that the government cracked down on abuse of sick leave in the public service.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: