Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- David Vognar argues that we should push for a guaranteed annual income not only as a matter of social equity, but also as a means of building human capital.

- Mike Benusic, Chantel Lutchman, Najib Safieddine and Andrew Pinto make the case for stronger sick leave policies across Canadian workplaces:
Canada’s current sick leave policies are not supporting the health of individuals and communities. First, employees are forced to choose between staying home when ill (losing income and potentially placing their job at risk) or to go to work (worsening their health and potentially infecting others). A CDC study of nearly 500 food service workers revealed that more than 50% had worked while knowingly ill. When asked why, half of the workers reported they did not want to lose income and a quarter did so for fear of losing their job. Obviously, those working in the food industry have a clear potential to transmit pathogens.

Second, sick workers are driven to clinics or emergency rooms: not for medical care but merely for proof they are ill – a paternalistic custom enshrined in business and many provincial sick leave rules. In delegating physicians into a policing role, clinical hours get chewed up by administrative tasks. When these illnesses are due to larger outbreaks, physicians are doubly burdened – by the sick who need treatment and the sick who need notes. The Ontario Medical Association discourages requiring sick notes for this reason, and also because of the real risk of transmission to others in the health care environment. Forcing infectious people into our waiting rooms who won’t benefit from treatment is burdensome for the patient and risky for all of those in the office.

Third, a comprehensive paid sick leave policy in Canada is economically sound. Missing work is costly, estimated to be $16.6 billion dollars annually in lost productivity, but research is beginning to show that being sick at work (presenteeism) is incredibly costly as well – up to three times as much as absenteeism for depression and pain.

Ultimately, it’s a matter of equity. All workers should have access to sufficient paid, job-protected sick leave to help them recover from illnesses without losing income and to reduce the risk of infecting others. As well, it’s a matter of respect: having an employee ‘prove’ an illness is nonproductive and onerous for all.
- Meanwhile, Sara Mojtehedzadeh discusses Dorcas Martey's example of how a lack of effective sick leave forces people engaged in precarious work to put their health on hold in order to keep afloat financially. And Julia Belluz points to Alheil Picazo's story as an example of how much room there is to improve Canada's health care system.

- Joanna Kerr rightly lambastes the Cons for trying to pretend that anybody who cares about civil liberties must be a terrorist. And Alison reminds us of the Cons' history of using public resources to monitor and attack the environmental movement, while Jim Bronskill reports that protest activity in general is already in CSIS' cross-hairs. 

- Finally, the European Federation of Public Service Unions weighs in on the false promise of P3s. And Kev highlights how the lure of low taxes has led us to accept public services which are both insufficient to begin with, and extremely precarious in their fiscal footing.

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