Bill Talks Sick Days with Scott Thompson

September 5, 2012

Scott and Bill discusses the cost of sick time and other benefits for city employees.

Click Here – Scott Thompson – August 31 -2012

Scott wrote an excellent follow-up op-ed for the Hamilton Spectator about the issue.

We’ve reached a tipping point on what the public sector can demand


I have two kids heading back to school on Tuesday. One is starting Grade 5 and the other, senior kindergarten. I have a great deal of interest in not only their future but in those who, along with my wife and I, are providing instruction along the way.

I believe most Canadians have a great deal of respect for those who have chosen to teach. It is one of the most honourable professions you can have; after all we are entrusting them with our most precious possessions, our children.

That is why it is important that during the current battle between the Liberal government and teachers unions we remember the politics involved don’t necessarily reflect the views of most on the front line in the classroom on a daily basis.

I believe we have reached a tipping point.

McGuinty’s Liberal government wants a pay freeze, reduction in benefits (such as sick days) and a ban on strikes and lockouts for the next two years.

The teachers’ unions claim there is no reason for all the hype: They’ll take a pay freeze. The Liberals, they say, are just trying to deflect attention from all the other catastrophes they have created around them. Which, of course, is true.

However they fail to mention the long line of backdoor benefits that seem to be standard practice for these types of deals.

For example: sick days.

I thought they were days you could take off when you were sick, and still get paid, while you got better.

I believe this is a perk we have all come to expect over time and I know I am grateful to have it. But when did sick days start becoming pay, or bonus, or retirement income?

I can understand all the perspectives in this debate, but we must be clear, not only on terminology, but also on definition.

Aren’t sick days to be used for the intended purpose, not a last-minute deal breaker in order to wring more from the government during negotiations? This simply leads to an abuse of the benefit for which it was not intended.

If you want a pay raise, ask for one in plain sight for everyone to see. Don’t hide it in the bowels of a deal, disguised as a bonus or sick day and then pretend you’re taking a freeze.

An increase is an increase at a time when most in this province have been experiencing freezes or cutbacks since at least 2008.

Some teachers, like some other public-sector workers, get to bank sick days in limited amounts and take their cash value at retirement.

That’s like claiming your life insurance before you’re dead because you never got sick and died.

Can we afford to stockpile these pricey benefits when the taxpayer funding them is having a tough time getting by with less every year and can only dream of such a deal?

Sick days are there for your/our well-being, (and thank you for that). Not for profit.

The other thorn in the teacher’s side is their loss of ability to negotiate. How would that negotiation go? Would they negotiate for less than the government offered? No. They want their cake, as they have had consistently, at a time when taxpayers simply can’t afford it.

The bigger question is how and why were these deals signed in the first place?

It’s 2012. The recession started back in 2008. For the last four years, austerity in some form has been a reality for most Ontarians, from pay cuts to job loss. How come the Liberal government and teachers are just getting around to it now? What have they been doing for the last four years?

Each year, many public service sector employees get contractually scheduled increase whether the economy or the taxpayer can afford it or not. This time we can’t.

In the private sector, you can’t demand increases when the company is heading toward bankruptcy.

This is not a war on education. It’s a war on overspending and inefficiency.

Is the Liberal government (and some teachers) finally learning what the rest of us have had to deal with for years? You can’t keep spending more than you are bringing in.

Since the rest of us can’t afford a tax increase, it seems only fair that it is their turn to understand austerity.

The Scott Thompson Show airs weekdays noon-3pm on News/Talk 900CHML.


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