9:30 p.m., Oct. 2)
Conservatives clarify position on federal sick leave, pension
By Fred Sherwin
leader Stephen Harper has written an open letter to federal
public service employees clarifying his party's position
on accumulated federal sick leave and ensuring them that
their pension fund is safe.
wrote the letter to counter what he says is "misleading"
information being spread by the federal unions and the
in the current election context, misleading statements
are being made about certain issues that matter to you
and your families, including sick leave and pension entitlements,
Harper writes. "I want to give you the facts to correct
goes on to explain his government's position on sick leave
and the pension fund. Regarding the latter, he assures
federal employees that the Conservatives have no intention
of making any changes to the public service pension plan.
some public sector union executives have alleged that
the Government wants to take away your pension, in whole
or in part. This is false," writes Harper, adding
that the government has not proposed any changes to the
pension plan, "nor are any contemplated".
incumbent Royal Galipeau (bottom left) is
joined by fellow National Capital Region candidates
Walter Pamic, Benjamin Woodman, Abdul Abdi,
David Pacini, Damian Konstantinakos, Maxime
Hupé-Labelle and Pierre Poilievre at
a press conference on Thursday. Fred Sherwin/Photo
for sick days, Harper writes that his government wants
to reform the civil service sick leave and disability
program. In the letter he states that over 60 per cent
of public servants do not have enough banked sick leave
to cover a full period of short-term disability (13 weeks).
also notes that 25 per cent of employees have fewer than
10 days of banked sick leave and that many new and younger
employees, have no banked sick days at all. A short-term
disability program would provide should they need to take
an extended period of time off to recover from illness
to the Treasury Board, federal public service employees
have 14.7 million sick days socked away. That's an average
of 75 days per employee, or about 15 weeks.
to public perception, federal employees can’t cash out
their sick leave when they leave the civil service.
Conservatives have passed legislation that would unilaterally
limit the number of sick days from 18 per year to six.
The plan would also cap the number of sick days an employee
can carry forward from one year to the next to just two
and they can accumulate no more than eight sick days in
any one year which is a far cry from the current average.
what has federal employees most upset is the fact that
the plan would reduce whatever sick days they have accumulated
by Sept. 1, 2016, to the maximum of eight.
unions are challenging the plan on the basis it violates
their members' collective bargaining rights. They're also
challenging the Conservatives' claim that the changes
will save taxpayers $900 million. They argue that because
no one actually gets to cash out their sick days, there
are no monetary savings, and therefore the claim is not
just misleading but totally false. Still, the Conservatives
stand by their estimate.
incumbent Royal Galipeau was among eight Conservative
candidates from the National Capital Region who held a
joint press conference following the release of Harper's
open letter on Thursday.
veteran MP wrote the Prime Minister in January 2012, suggesting
that while it would be fair to change the benefits of
public servants "yet to be hired", it would
be wrong to make any changes retroactive, and wronger
still to reduce the benefits of people who are already
responded to Galipeau thanking him for his input on the
subject and at the bottom he wrote in his own hand, "Royal
I agree that no changes can be made retroactively."
was ahead of the curve way before anybody wanted to assign
ill-intentions to us on this issue" says Galipeau
referring to his letter.
found it important before the issue even reared its head.
Pensions of retirees had to be protected. Pensions of
public servants already employed had to be protected and
he agreed and all of the decisions we've made since then
have respected that spirit."
asked why he thought the opposition and the unions were
coming after his party on the issue of pensions and sick
leave, Galipeau accused them of fear-mongering.
think that a number of people have preyed on public servants
and their anxieties," he says. "I anticipated
that this might happen and that is why I obtained assurances
from the Prime Minister before the ugliness might happen."
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