Should the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s motto be “Work Sick”? | National Union of Public and General Employees

Should the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s motto be “Work Sick”?

"So what happens when people end up working sick? They often infect their co-workers as well as their customers, clients or even patients," says PEIUPSE President, Debbie Bovyer. 

Charlottetown (13 Sept. 2013) - In an editorial, Debbie Bovyer, President of the Prince Edward Island Union of Public and Private Employees (PEIUPSE/NUPGE) expressed her concern about the position taken by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) on public service workers taking negotiated sick time. 

In a letter posted on the PEIUPSE/NUPGE website, Bovyer writes,

I am always skeptical of information provided by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) which has built its reputation and filled its coffers by repeatedly attacking public sector workers. Using Labour Day as a platform to launch their attack was certainly clever on their part, and at the same time mean spirited. Their topic this time is about how many sick days people are taking. 

In my view, if someone is sick they should consider staying home to get well, and then return to work. However, many people feel they have little choice but to work sick. They feel they will be reprimanded if they take a sick day, or they simply don’t have sick days to take.

So what happens when people end up working sick? They often infect their co-workers as well as their customers, clients or even patients. Productivity also suffers as sick people cannot concentrate as well, have less energy, and work slower. They become exhausted more easily which can make them even sicker and more likely to use the health care system. The end result is lower productivity in the workplace, increased pressure and cost on the health care system, and lower quality of life for workers and their families.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation likes to complain about hard working Islanders taking sick days. They are especially concerned about public service workers and are eager to turn fellow Islanders against them. 

Provincial public service employees used 8 sick days per year (on average) over the past five consecutive years. In comparison, private sector workers on the Island used approximately 6.3 sick days per year on average. The difference is only 1.7 days per year and the real problem, which the Canadian Taxpayers Federation does not want to talk about, is that many private sector workers have very little flexibility in regard to sick leave. 

The Employment Standards Act only permits workers 3 sick days per year. In today’s fast paced, high stress work environment this leaves many families vulnerable to economic hardship when a working family member becomes ill. If anything, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation should be spending their members’ money on investigating the potential of improving sick leave for their members — instead of silently promoting the idea that just because they work sick then everyone else should too.


Debbie Bovyer
President,
PEI Union of Public Sector Employees (PEIUPSE/NUPGE)

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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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