Clement wrong on issue of federal public service workers' sick leave, again | National Union of Public and General Employees

Clement wrong on issue of federal public service workers' sick leave, again

For the second time this year, Tony Clement, president of the Treasury Board, has his figures proven wrong on the federal public service sick leave program.

Ottawa (17 July 2014) — The Parlimentary Budget Office released a new report which says that federal public servant sick leave does not cost taxpayers anything extra. 

Clement proved wrong on sick leave claims

These new findings by the parliamentary budget officer, Jean-Denis Frechette stand in stark contrast to more than a year of Treasury Board President Tony Clement's complaints about the unsustainable costs of sick leave and the urgent need to overhaul the system. In fact, since most departments are not in the practice of calling in replacement workers to cover days when an employee is ill, there are no additional costs. 

The only departments that regularly replace workers who are ill are those where absences have a direct impact on service levels, health and safety. 

Conservative government looking to cut costs by cutting sick leave, disability benefits and pensions

The Conservative government made its intentions clear well before bargaining started with the federal public service employees, saying it would target pensions, sick leave and disability benefits in order to balance the budget. Clement has been a vocal opponent of the current sick leave program. 

It is not the first time Clement has had his facts wrong when it comes to the federal sick leave program. In February 2014, Clement complained that employees were taking too many sick days, quoting an average of 18 days of sick leave a year. The Parliamentary Budget Office revealed that employees take only 11.5 sick days, but if you pad that number with days off work due to injury or count unpaid sick days, you can arrive at Clement's figure. 

New proposed sick leave plan will create more stress in the system and not lead to healthier workers or workplaces

Now Clement is saying that the cuts to the sick leave program is not about cutting costs, they are about making it fairer for everyone. Clement's proposal is to reduce sick time from 15 days to five days, push people onto a short term disability leave after a week, and then onto a long term disability program after six months. He also wants to eliminate the ability to roll over unused sick days. 

Paid sick leave is a benefit negotiated between the employees and management, with all elements contained in the collective agreement. Management currently has all the tools necessary to address any problems with the program. 

Clement has not released any figures associated with his proposed plan but it is suspected that contracting out the administration of sick leave to a third-party will bring added costs, not only to the government but to workers as well. 

More information: 

Fiscal Materiality of Sick Leave in 20 Departments of the Core Public Administration 


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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