To the Editor,
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 its attack was certainly clever, and at the same time mean-spirited. The topic this time is 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.
So what happens when people end up working sick? They often infect their co-workers as well as their customers or clients. Productivity also suffers as sick people can’t concentrate as well, have less energy, and work slower.
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 eight 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 three 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.
President, P.E.I. Union of Public Sector Employees