Five extra public sector sick days cost Canadians up to $3.5 billion: CFIB

The Canadian Press
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TORONTO — A new report suggests public sector employees in Canada take nearly five more sick, disability and personal days per year than Canadians working in the private sector.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says those extra days cost up to $3.5 billion per year, noting some public sector workers can bank unused sick days, then take a lump-sum payment or use the days to retire early.

The CFIB says federal government employees take the most time off, averaging 15.2 sick, disability and personal days per year compared to 12.9 days in the overall public sector and 8.2 days in the private sector.

The federation says there are variances within the private sector, depending on the size of the employer.

Employees in businesses with fewer than 20 employees averaged 6.7 days off, while those in firms with more than 500 employees took 9.1 days, which is still lower than the public sector average.

In its report, the CFIB calls for sick day allotments to be aligned with those offered in the private sector and for the accumulation of unused sick days to be discontinued.

“I don’t think anybody believes that public sector workers just get sick more often, yet something makes them feel entitled to more time off,” said CFIB president and CEO Dan Kelly.

“Obviously, we want to be compassionate when people are truly not well, but the current system has entrenched a feeling of entitlement to those days off that has very little to do with being sick.”

“We need to change the system so everybody’s playing by the same rules,” said Kelly.

Organizations: Canadian Federation of Independent Business

Geographic location: TORONTO, Canada

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Recent comments

  • Frank
    December 06, 2012 - 10:00

    A little research may have been in order here. I may be just a dirty federal employee but may I suggest a little fact checking before you "publish" your expert opinion, and face it that's all it is - your opinion. Now before eveyrone starts attacking me about how much of a tax drain I am, like I don't pay 37% of my pay to various taxes myself, I want to point out a misinformation or two. I work for DND, a large federal employer so my experience there is what I will speak to. About 3 years ago a departmental analysis put an end to banking sick leave because yes people were saving their sick leave and retiring early - the straw that broke the camel's back at DND was someone who retired 3 years early having not taken a single sick day in 32 years. That someone wore a uiform though. The department reviewed that and abolished accumulating sick leave, you either take it or cash it out every 3 years now so there is no more than 1 year leave left on the books every 3 years. So we can't accummulate it for cash out or early retirement (which for the record not every fed civil servant agrees with or would contemplate doing but when you talk about an org the size of the fed gov you are going to attract all kinds some of which will be there to milk the loopholes) and you say we aren't entitled to use it because it costs the tax payer then what exactly would you have happen to it? Sick leave is not a free for all as the article would leave you to believe - more than 3 consecutive sick days requires a dr's note upon your return to work. If it appears to the manager that this is being abused a dr's note can be requested for any sick leave. Disability is disability, the same rules apply to everyone public or private sector. You aren't just given disability days because you are a civil servant, it requires a dr's note just like the private sector because disability is solely the responsibility of Service Canada since it is administered by EI. For the record I have never heard of a disability leave allowance at DND, you have to use your sick leave. Personal leave - 1 day per year non accumulative whether used or not because hey occassionally stuff happens. Mr Kelly seems to have just jumped on the bandwagon of the past couple years and took the easy way to draw some attention to his "report" by telling the canadian public that its civil servants are getting something that they are not. Compare apples to apples Mr Kelly analyze private sector unionized companies like electricians, pumbers, teamsters, teachers, nurses and compare those "entitlements" to civil servants' packages.

  • Chantal
    December 05, 2012 - 10:15

    Having worked in the non-unionized private sector I can say that many times workers came to the office when they clearly should have been at home getting better, not because they're stupid, but because they are well aware of the repercussions of taking time off. The right-wing CFIB would love to see Canadian workers on the same level as Bangladeshi workers.

  • Angie
    December 05, 2012 - 10:01

    Yes the conservatives are making cuts; cutting jobs, cutting Services to the Canadian taxpayer. So the next time you require a passport or perhaps yourself or someone you know complains about the length of time it takes to get EI or better yet appeal an EI decision, or you visit Parks Canada ask yourself what are you getting for your tax dollars. The government continues to bail out Corporate Canada so those people can keep their jobs but they are slashing jobs and more importantly Services provided to the Canadian public. The only thing they have failed to slash in all of this is the amount you pay in taxes.

  • mr. scrooge
    December 05, 2012 - 09:03

    the conservatives are on the right track. too many employees walking around with coffee cups doing nothing. cuts are needed to lessen the burden on taxpayers.

  • PrivateSectorPat
    December 04, 2012 - 21:14

    Another great reason to support any cutback and layoffs of public sector employees. Our hard earned tax dollars not hard at work.

  • William
    December 04, 2012 - 21:12

    When I first started working for the government I never used any sick days unless it was absolutely necessary. The union which represented me got very angry, and very vocally stated, "Use your sickdays we fought for them for you, and you better use them." This is common in the public sector.

  • Jay
    December 04, 2012 - 15:49

    Mr. Kelly's overly simplistic analysis of a complicated issue once again shows that anything coming from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business is hardly worth the paper on which it's written. I've worked in both sectors and there are far more issues than "entitlement" to the amount of sick days taken. I've also learned over the years that you don't realize how important a union is until you work in a place which doesn't have one. I'm convinced that if the CFIB and similar organizations had their way, workers wouldn't have any entitlements at all.