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Canadian government moves to crack down on alleged overuse of public sector sick days

June 12, 2013

Sick days and paid vacation are among the most valuable assets to an employee in any job. Within the context of the Canadian government, however, president of the Treasury Board Tony Clement has announced a desire to oppose what he considers to be an excessive use of sick leave. According to Yahoo! News Canada, the administration Clement serves claims that the average Canadian civil servant takes 18.2 days' worth of paid and unpaid time off each year, which would equate to 2.5 times the mean figure of private sector leave. Civil servants can complain about the issue in conversations with foreign friends and relatives, using an international calling card to do so.

The news source reported that Clement is not openly claiming to question the legitimacy of these sick days. "I think that the great majority of public servants are - when they take time off they are sick. But there's no question that the rate of sick leave when you're looking at 18.2 days as an average in a year is well beyond not only private sector norms but other public sector norms," he said.

According to CBC, the highest average of sick days per year in Canadian government departments as noted in data from the Treasury Board of Canada is found in Veterans Affairs, with a mean figure of 24.4 days per year. On the other end of the spectrum, the Foreign Affairs and International Trade department had an annual average of only 11.5 days.

Clement's plans were ill-received by the Public Service Sector Alliance of Canada, the nation's largest union of civil service employees, Yahoo! News Canada reported. In an official statement, the union claimed, "The government hasn't been transparent with its data, and the data we do have simply doesn't back up their claims...It's also misleading to compare public and private sector sick leave. Many private sector workers get no sick leave."

CBC reported that the PSAC plans to boycott the Canadian celebration of Public Service Week, from June 10 to 14, to protest Clement's plans.

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