Friday, April 01, 2016

Ontario teachers are sicker than ever

Ontario's teachers are at it again. The feisty teachers' unions of Ontario are calling for a public apology from Education Minister Liz Sandals for having the temerity to suggest that maybe teachers were abusing their sick days plan. Quite frankly, I think she's probably dead right.
In 2012, the Ontario Liberal government cut full-pay sick days for Ontario teachers from 20 to 11 per year (plus an additional 120 short-term leave days at 90% of their salary), and took away their ability to bank unused days indefinitely. It was found that teachers were saving up these sick days, and then claiming a cash payout of up to $45,000 for them on retirement. The government estimated that the new plan resulted in almost $1 billion in one-time savings, as well as substantial annual savings.
A recent report from the non-for-profit School Boards’ Co-operative Inc., based on date from 55 school boards in Ontario, shows that teachers are taking more sick days as a result of this policy. According to the report, education workers took an average of 10.29 sick days each in 2014-15, as compared to an average of 8.86 days before the changes were implemented in 2012. And yes, you guessed it, Fridays are when illness strikes most often (although there MAY be some good reasons for that).
So, it seems clear that Ontario teachers are in fact taking more sick days as a result of not being able to bank them. However, Ms. Sandals made the mistake of publicly pointing this out, adding, "There's no reason to believe that they're actually sicker than they were two years ago".
Teacher union responses to this, perhaps predictably, have been along the lines of: "provocative, presumptuous and completely unsubstantiated"; "Her comments demonstrated a lack of respect for the dedication displayed every day by Ontario’s education workers"; "We hope the Minister will learn to more carefully consider her public musings in the future"; "Minister of Ed should publicly apologize to teachers in this prov for her unacceptable & unfounded comments"; etc.
Provocative? Yes. Presumptuous? Not so much. Unsubstantiated? Not at all.

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