That's sick!

Children and family development employees took $7.3 million of sick leave in fiscal 2007/08 - costing the government more money than any other provincial ministry. This, according to documents exclusively obtained by Public Eye via a freedom of information request.

That money equals 47,313 sick days or an average of 12.39 days per employee - significantly more than the 8.55 day average across government. In fact, only the smaller ministry of employment and income assistance was sicker, averaging 12.89 days per employee at a cost of $3.2 million.

Asked for comment, children and family development communications manager Matt Gordon explained, "MCFD has the most employees in government - at 4,800 employees, we are the largest provincial ministry. We also have the largest proportion of front-line workers providing direct services to clients. We recognize there are challenges in terms of sick days. But it's important to acknowledge that our staff, particularly those who work in the field and on the front-lines, face significant pressures due to the nature of the work."

Nevertheless, the average number of sick days at children and family development has - for the most part - increased since the Liberals took office, starting at 10.97 days per employee in 2001/02 and reaching its highest level in the past fiscal year. By comparison, that average has decreased across government over the same period, starting at 9.45 days. So what action is the ministry taking to ensure its employees are healthier?

Well, Mr. Gordon says children and family development is presently "working on strategies to help reduce sick days and help employees." Those strategies include having occupational health nurses visit the homes those who have taken more than two weeks of leave to "help them find ways to get back to work sooner." And the ministry has hired "someone to focus on this specific issue so we can find more strategies to help."

But British Columbia Government and Service Employees' Union research, campaigns and communications director Mary Rowles said the Campbell administration should be doing more. "Everything the ministry spokesperson mentioned was all about attendance management - sending nurses to badger people who are at home. Where are the actions that will actually reduce caseloads, for example, with child protection workers, reduce stress and actually address the root causes of this?"

The following is a complete listing of the average sick days per employee at children and family development and across government by fiscal year.


Average sick days per person at children and family development

Fiscal 2007/08 - 12.39
Fiscal 2006/07 - 11.46
Fiscal 2005/06 - 11.71
Fiscal 2004/05 - 11.71
Fiscal 2003/04 - 11.52
Fiscal 2002/03 - 11.77
Fiscal 2001/02 - 10.97

Average sick days per person across government

Fiscal 2007/08 - 8.55
Fiscal 2006/07 - 8.37
Fiscal 2005/06 - 8.69
Fiscal 2004/05 - 8.31
Fiscal 2003/04 - 8.67
Fiscal 2002/03 - 8.88
Fiscal 2001/02 - 9.45


Well of course absenteeism is high!

MCF and MEIA are the worst of the worst in government!! (and that's saying alot)

Instead of pressuring people not to take days off and the aptly described badgering by having nurses 'visit' people at home they should be working on employee morale and management competency issues.

How stupid of the execs. Stupid stupid stupid.

Oh and wouldn't the nurses be better off seeing patients - there IS a nursing shortage after all.

Good on you Sean, they have not wanted these numbers out for a long time.

The last thing in the world employees need is OHP nurses badgering them at home. The Occupational Health program does not provide any recognizable, or quantifiable service. I think it's time that all of these government departments start releasing public reports about what work they perform and what work products they produce as public servants.

The government should be very clear about some of the latest human rights and labour relations rulings re: attendance management programs before they start sending their nurses out to harass ill workers at their homes. I don't know of any other industry, or organization that would EVER consider it best practices, or legally viable, to send employees to the homes of sick employees to "help them find ways to get back to work sooner." That would be a HUGE mistake and quite likely could lead to some serious problems for the government.

As usual, this dysfunctional system is going about things ass backwards. Instead of going after the employees, why not _listen to the employees and the BCGEU_ who have been telling the government for decades about the problems of workload, chaos and disorganization. The dysfunctional nature of the corporatized organizational culture of MCFD is also to blame for workers becoming ill. It is a "sick" organization through and through. Eli Sopow's book "Corporate Personality Disorder: Surviving & Saving Sick Organizations" is a must read to begin to understand the toxicity. Until the government wraps their brain around that, they will continue to lose dozens, if not hundreds of workers each year. And, in this Ministry, that sometimes means that children die as a result. Obviously that isn't a concern of government either. It's too bad the Liberals don't value children's lives enough to properly manage this system and fund more workers. Do managers really need more catered meals for meetings?

The next set of stats to be released should be the attrition rates for child protection social workers, year by year, by region and age. The "powers that be" have no concept of the damage being done to workers and frankly, one has to conclude they don't care, as this has been happening for decades. Go back and read the Gove Inquiry, Hughes Review etc. The attrition rate is rapidly accelerating and this means a severe decrease in organizational capacity and competency at all levels. That lack of competency has been well known at the managerial level for years (the Peter Principle anyone). The wisdom ran out the door when Campbell gave them all early retirement and voluntary departure to get the numbers down.

All of this "sickness" can be placed squarely on Campbell's shoulders, no-one else is responsible, least of all the workers/victims. I suggest the government, in their finite "wisdom" start sending nurses to see him, although there is no cure for what he's got. Except being knee-capped in May 2009. Looking forward to the end of a Liberal majority.

Sending a nurse out to the homes of employees of mcfd who are ill is likely another of du toit's stupid ideas. working under her "leadership" would make anyone ill. after the nurses pay a visit to our drunken premier, their second stop should be to the tax payer subsidized condo of lesley du toit and make sure that the nurses are from the psychiatric ward.

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