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Time to reform municipal sick day policies

Costing City of Saskatoon $14.7 million & City of Regina $10.8 million

Regina, April 14, 2016 – A new report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) shows some big-city sick day policies are costly and unfair as municipal government employees can bank unused sick days while most private sector employees cannot.

Banking means that if an employee doesn’t use all their allotted sick days in a year, they can save them for later. Of the 16 major cities reviewed, 10 allow banking. Policies vary, with some cities, including Winnipeg and Moncton, offering an unlimited number of banked sick days. Others place a ceiling on bankable days.

While many cities have grandfathered “cash out” policies for banked sick days some cities still allow it, including Saskatoon, Vancouver, Moncton and Charlottetown. Montreal also allows workers to use banked sick days towards early retirement.

In Saskatoon, employees get 15 to 18 paid sick days per year and can bank up to 194 days, which can be converted to cash payments upon retirement under certain collective agreements. The City of Saskatoon had $14.7 million in banked sick day liability in 2013.

In Regina, employees get 16 paid sick days per year and can bank up to 215 days. If employees are laid off, they are entitled to a payment equal to 50 per cent of unused sick days. In 2013, the City of Regina had $10.8 million in banked sick day liability. Note: Sick leave payouts do not apply to employees hired after December 31, 2013. Sick Leave payouts apply to employees with at least 10 years of continuous service and at least 30 banked sick days.

“Having a safety net in place in case employees get sick in the short-term is obviously a responsible thing to do,” said Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB vice-president, Prairie & Agri-business. “However, when governments allow the banking of sick days, they are encouraging their employees to feel entitled to those days whether they’re sick or not.”


Who allows sick day banking?

  Max Days Bankable Cash Payout Early Retirement
Vancouver 261 Yes No
Victoria 130 grandfathered No
Saskatoon 194 Yes No
Regina 215 grandfathered No
Winnipeg Unlimited grandfathered No
Montreal*** 40*** Termination of employmet only Yes
Moncton Unlimited Yes No
Halifax 150 No No
Charlottetown 350 Yes No
St. John's 260 grandfathered grandfathered

*** Note:   A new Montreal White Collars collective agreement is currently under negotiation.


“We simply cannot afford these costly municipal sick day policies, which create an unnecessary burden on taxpayers,” noted Braun-Pollon. “Sick days are for when you’re sick. We need to fix the system so that everyone is playing by the same rules. Instead of hiking property taxes each year, CFIB recommends cities introduce fairer and affordable short-term disability plans to replace these outdated sick-day banking policies to protect their workers and better align with private sector practices.”

Calgary, Edmonton, Quebec City and Fredericton set a good example for all, not allowing sick day banking. While Toronto has the largest sick day liability among cities, $489 million in 2013, they and Ottawa have followed suit, discontinuing sick day banking for new employees, and instituting a short-term disability plan. Forty per cent of existing Toronto employees chose to switch to the plan.

To arrange an interview with Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s Vice-President Prairie & Agri-business, please call (306) 757-0000, 1-888-234-2232 or email [email protected]. You may follow CFIB Saskatchewan on Twitter @cfibsk.

To arrange an interview with Queenie Wong, CFIB Senior Research Analyst, and author of the report, please contact Ryan Mallough at 416-222-8022, 647-464-2814 or [email protected].

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members (5,250 in Saskatchewan) across every sector and region.

April 14, 2016

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