Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is beginning deliberations on its next budget and expects that provincially mandated paid sick days are going to impact the numbers by close to $700,000.
In November, the B.C. government directed employers to offer at least five paid sick days annually beginning the start of the year. According to a school district staff report, the Employment Standards Act was amended on April 1 to include employees not previously covered under district collective agreements.
Mark Walsh, secretary-treasurer, said the district was being “cautious” with that figure, but anticipates a cost of $675,000 in the 2022-23 budget year. The district was “a little bit caught off-guard” by the changes and is already beginning to see the “fiscal impact,” he said.
“The example would be I am a teacher and I know I have prep next Monday, and I call [a teacher teaching on call] … that’s going to cost the district $330. All of a sudden, the TTOC is sick, can’t come. Now a new TTOC is called and both of them are paid,” Walsh told trustees. “So we’re paying three times, potentially, for the same position.”
When asked by Charlene McKay, board chairperson, whether the B.C. Ministry of Education has indicated if it will fund any of the sick leave provision costs, Walsh said it didn’t appear so.
“If you bring your mind back to the employer health tax, I think that was an unintended consequence of a positive government shift and that ultimately was fixed, but at this time, no,” said Walsh. “If they did change, we would theoretically have additional dollars to be able to allocate to board priorities.”
The $675,000 would be subtracted from a budgeted $989,000 surplus, Walsh said.
“This cost has been estimated based on the number of casual and TTOC employees, using the total five-day entitlement, based on an average salary per employee group,” the staff report stated.
In all, the $152-million preliminary budget, dubbed the “reconnect and recover budget” by Walsh, is projecting enrolment of more than 15,046 full-time students come September.
The school district must submit its annual budget to the ministry by June 30, as per provincial requirements.