Toronto says its city workers should return to work sooner

TORONTO — A sign outside the Toronto General Hospital that says, “Welcome back City of Toronto, we are sorry for the short notice.” This could be your new mood this month after Toronto Mayor John Tory pushed to end sick leave for city workers on Tuesday.

“The day you feel ill is the day you shouldn’t be off. That is our principle,” Tory said, according to Bloomberg. “There is a cost to society of not having people who are truly ill on the job, so we’re asking to have them come back to work earlier.”

Employees will be given four-weeks sick leave instead of the 12 usual ones, he said. The plan to return in late January was announced after a Canadian pilot study found the city workers could return to work sooner and be more productive once they did. He said 200,000 workers would make the change.

While the cost of returning employees sooner is not yet known, although estimates are at least $700 million over four years, “it will not directly impact the economy,” The Guardian reported.

For many, the plan would let sick workers go back to work but yet still avoid notifying the employer of their illnesses.

The move comes after what has been a frenzied month of lawsuits, tussles and speculation on the status of 26,000 workers, or 8 percent of the city workforce, following proposed legislation in Canada’s Ontario province to cap sick leave hours. Toronto’s Crown corporation, Office of the Premier, published the plans on Monday, including the timeline and word of when the returning workers would start returning to the office.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned in November of a potential “brain drain” from Canada’s largest city if sick leave took hold. In previous statements, he’s said that sick leave is a “reason why people leave.”

“Over the course of the day, the moral compass of city staff can be challenged, and it is critically important that people understand that they should come back to work,” He said in a CBC interview in November.

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