Alberta Health Services managers accused of squandering sick days
Published Monday, April 18, 2016 5:44PM MDT Last Updated Tuesday, April 19, 2016 6:29PM MDT
A CTV News Investigation looked into the sick days taken by Alberta Health Services managers and found that hundreds of people were taking months of sick leave at the expense of provincial taxpayers.
Documents acquired through access to information requests show hundreds of managers taking time off and collecting full pay over the last two years.
AHS managers are allowed to take 16 weeks of sick time and in many cases they did exactly that, before returning to work.
The details became known just as AHS gets another boost from the provincial budget and barely a year after it vowed to crack down on sick days in its ranks because they were eating up millions of dollars.
“Something that affects the quality of life and might even make the difference between life and death in some people's cases has to be something where the focus is on those who are receiving the services and there is no room in this sort of context for wasting money on overly generous or insufficiently monitored sick leaves,” said Lori Williams from Mount Royal University.
CTV News looked at sick time for more than three, fully-paid weeks and found hundreds and hundreds of people taking months off, in some cases.
AHS says four months of fully paid sick time isn't excessive and that it's common across Canada in this sector. Officials say more than half of the people taking the full, four months off were very sick and that it looks worse than it is because the institution is so big.
‘We are such a large organization that all of our numbers look big so we’re talking about a non-union exempt work force here, a management and out-of-scope workforce. I should point out that that workforce includes unit managers, patient care managers, metal health clinic managers, food service supervisors,” said Todd Gilchrist, Alberta Health Services.
Not all managers took the full amount of time off and there were instances where some took just three hours last year.
The opposition says there needs to be someone at the top, in administration or in government, that is checking on this and making sure the system isn't abused.
AHS acknowledged that sick time is costing it millions and that it created an attendance awareness program for staff, which has led to a one percent drop in sick time.
(With files from Chris Epp)
AHS - MANAGEMENT/OUT-OF-SCOPE SICK DAYS - 2014