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Resident says staff report on sick day payouts “anemic”

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Durham Region paid out approximately $9.65 million to 466 employees for unused sick days between 2012 and 2016, a fact that confounds local resident Greg Milosh.

As reported earlier in The Oshawa Express, Milosh spoke to council last fall regarding a regional policy of paying out unused sick days to employees who leave their positions.

Explaining he searched high and low to find any other organization that has a similar practice, Milosh said he was unable to identify a board of education, hospital or government, including Durham Region’s seven lower-tier municipalities.

Under the regional policy, any regular employee who has at least five years of continuous employment is eligible to receive, upon termination for any reason, payment for half of their sick days as long as the gratuity does not exceed six months of the employee’s current salary.

“Not only [is Durham Region] in the minority, it is virtually alone,” Milosh told council at its Sept. 10 meeting.

Upon hearing Milosh’s deputation, council directed staff to bring a report back to them.

That report, prepared by the region’s commissioner of finance Jim Clapp, was included in the Dec. 15 council information package, and in Milosh’s view, missed the mark entirely.

“I just don’t think they took it seriously. That report, as they call it, is so anemic,” Milosh told The Express. “If I were the commissioner of finance, I would be embarrassed to sign my name to such a skimpy non-informative report. It raises more questions than it answers.”

Clapp’s report reveals the policy has been in place since 1975, and is included in most of the region’s collective bargaining agreements. Full-time employees of both Durham Paramedic Services and Durham Transit do not receive unused sick day payouts.

Durham Regional Police Service has its own sick day policy but the department’s information was not included the report.

According to Milosh, his main contention with the report is what he called a severe lack of information, claiming it fails to present any of the merits or disadvantages of the policy.

To him, staff should have examined the policies of other regional governments that compare to Durham, such as York, Peel and Halton among others.

“None of them have it. They know it’s too costly.”

The staff report did not mention any other organizations that have a similar policy.

Milosh intended to address council regarding the matter once again at the Jan. 10 committee of the whole meeting, but told The Express he was informed by regional staff that he couldn’t deliver another deputation because he spoke on the policy within the past six months.

As far he is concerned the region has three choices – leave the policy as it is, discontinue it for any new hires or simply eliminate it from all collective bargaining agreements.

Milosh told The Express if he feels the matter is not “dealt with seriously and professionally” he will take it to the Office of the Ontario Ombudsman.