The chief of Niagara Regional police sent out an internal memo cracking down on the number of officers calling in sick. The chief wrote that 40 police officers took a sick day on August 11th, the hottest day of the year. In a copy of the internal note obtained by the St. Catharine’s Standard, the chief says they’re experiencing a trend that needs to change.
Police Chief Jeff McGuire wrote in that note to staff that he knows some of the absences are justified but that he has “little doubt” that other officers are using sick days as paid leave. For the past 6 months the sick time hours are well above the average for the past three years.
We showed labour lawyer Howard Levitt the memo and he says the chief was completely justified sending it out and calls on the chief to fire the officers who are dishonest.
Looking back at public reports, overtime hours to cover Niagara officers home sick have gone up 45%. In 2014 they clocked over 11 000 overtime hours, in 2015 it jumped to nearly 17 000.
The chief declined an on-camera interview about the note that was never meant for the public to see, but issued CHCH a statement saying, they are working to resolve the issue of absenteeism and its negative impact on operations and their budget.
Levitt says statistically public sector employees take more sick days than private sector workers because they’re so well compensated. We spoke on the phone today with Cliff Priest the president of the union representing Niagara regional police officers. He says he disagrees with the chief’s numbers, of the 40 people off that day Priest says some were on long term disability.