Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. calls for mandatory paid sick leave for workers

‘It is unacceptable that employees who are sick cannot afford to stay home,” says president Aluki Kotierk

Arctic Ventures in Iqaluit has installed plexiglass shields at its registers to help protect its workers from COVID-19. NTI is calling for mandatory paid sick leave for all workers across the territory. (Photo courtesy of Arctic Ventures) 

By Nunatsiaq News

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. is calling on the Government of Nunavut to ensure mandatory paid sick leave for all workers in the territory.

NTI president Aluki Kotierk made the call in a Thursday news release, saying she’s concerned by the growing number of COVID-19 cases across Nunavut and their potential links to essential workers.

“A year into the global pandemic and it is unacceptable that employees who are sick cannot afford to stay home,” Kotierk said in the release.

“We all need to do our part to contribute to the fight against COVID-19 and this is one area in which we believe the GN can make a positive impact right now as well as a lasting impact for future generations.”

Kotierk suggested the GN could enact legislation to ensure a minimum sick leave is offered to all of the territory’s employees, or offer a paid sick leave rebate program to employers in Nunavut, similar to what Yukon offers.

Premier Joe Savikataaq responded to a question about the GN’s willingness to implement paid sick leave during a Friday morning news conference, saying his government has yet to decide how to address the issue.

“We’re looking at the options now,” he told reporters. “We also had the federal sick day leave that we were looking into too, so no definite decision has been made yet.”

Savikataaq added: “If you’re sick, we ask everyone to stay home.”

When the pandemic first started, only two Canadian provinces offered paid sick leave to workers: Quebec and Prince Edward Island. Ontario has recently introduced a sick leave.

There are 78 active cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut, including the 12 new cases announced on Friday.

— with files from Dustin Patar

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(12) Comments:

  1. Posted by still here on

    Did NTI just get a whole bunch of funding money from the government?, how come NTI does not use there own money to support its constituents that need sick leave pay, NTI is not in a deficit i am pretty sure, sometimes giving a solution is better than just saying this has to change.

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    • Posted by Not NTI $& on

      It should come out of the employer’s pockets. Not the NTI. Look at the CARS station(weather/air traffic) for the smaller communities. Run by an Ottawa based company. No sick leave, 3-5 days a year paid leave. And just the basic federal allowed holiday paid year(mind you they only get 66% of that days pay of that holiday). And they are the lifeline of the north. They are the backbone of the north getting their food and essentials.

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      • Posted by CARS on

        There used to be the DOT but I wasn’t old enough to understand all this yet. Then it was changed to MOT where everything including winter gear and cutlery were provided for the workers who arrived from outside. When the guy from Ft. Smith came I brought this up where I was made to shut up because it was going to be CARS and if hamlet didn’t go with it then he would put in an unmanned station into our community. The group from Ottawa gets the benefits, our local CARS operators gets almost nothing.

  2. Posted by Reality on

    Many GN workers use up all of their generous sick time by April, and then are indignant that they have to take a day of leave without pay when they really get sick.

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  3. Posted by WB on

    This is one of the more progressive things NTI has advocated for. Great work!

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  4. Posted by “Sick” Leave on

    When I worked a government job down south, we tracked sick leave, and made sure any sick leave that was being used was justified. Every sick leave meant a short conversation with the supervisor. We had a threshold too, meaning any employee who took more than ten sick days in a calendar year would need to sign up for an attendance management program and that employee’s future sick time would be rigorously monitored.

    There is no reason for an employee to use up all of his or her sick leave every year.

    The GN offers zero incentive towards unused sick time, which results in many seeing “sick” time as simply “vacation” time. This is a burden to taxpayers. This is time theft.

    While unpaid sick time is worrisome, so is the rampant use of unjustified sick days by Government workers in Nunavut.

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    • Posted by for real! on

      there needs to be an incentive for unused sick leave from the GN. “thank you for coming to work and never missing time. but sick leave is the only type of leave we will not pay out when you are done working for us”. this needs to change.

      i think think the fact that there is not incentive for this many employees are pushed to misuse sick leave and then it becomes too easy because all we have to do is make sure we don’t take 3 days in a row to avoid a medical note.

    • Posted by Think Not on

      I agree that managing sick leave is important, however it can not be time theft or a burden to taxpayers or the business, it is a benefit that is provided in contract, and therefore that sick leave is owed to the employee – no questioned asked, (should not have to justify needing a mental health day etc) however if it is abused or not and it runs out, then the employee has no right to complain.

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      • Posted by Think so on

        Let’s be honest 90% of the sick days taken in Nunavut would likely not fly as sick days if the supervisor knew the real reasons behind them. I am guilty of this and many of my friends and family members are too.

        If I had an incentive to not treat my sick days as an unscheduled long weekends or a day to hang out with my kids at home, I would probably think twice about not going to work.

        Sick leave should (and usually is ) not a “no questions asked” benefit. If someone is running though their entire bank of sick leave every year, I should be questioning what is really going on with that worker.

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        • Posted by Nunya on

          You would question what is going on with this worker but it would still be none of your damn business. The worker negotiated through their union, the right to have sick leave for ANY personal health matters. Commenters here seem to believe that sick leave should only be used when you have an extremely bad cold or food poisoning or other debilitating physical symptoms, and completely overlook the fact that mental health is also health. Given the challenges faced by Nunavummiut, make no wonder employees use up all of their sick leave.

  5. Posted by delbert on

    How about rewarding employees who show up for their shifts are on time and don’t take to many extended breaks. Oh and are productive. Just saying.

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  6. Posted by Larry on

    Hey,the mining companys having been paying their employees to stay home for over a year,NTI YOU SHOULD COMENSATE,these sick days with your millions you received from these company,spread the wealth around.you cannot take it with you

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