The issue of sick leave in the federal public service is back in the news this week. As the first rounds of negotiations have begun for some of the other bargaining agents, details about Treasury Board’s proposed changes have started to emerge.

The details being reported are unsurprising and only serve to strengthen our position that this government’s interpretation of a short-term disability plan falls far short of anything worth our consideration.

As we gear up for our turn at the bargaining table, it’s disheartening to once again read the rhetoric that suggests bargaining agents aren’t prepared to negotiate. We’ve proven time and time again in our 25-year history that we are more than prepared to engage in truly meaningful negotiations and we believe it’s disingenuous to suggest otherwise.

We are not interested, however, in taking part in late-stage token consultations on something Treasury Board is already treating as a fait accompli. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has already poured cold water on the government’s claims about the material costs of sick leave so if changes are to be made they should be to improve the system, not weaken it.

At this point, we have received notice to bargain and are scheduled to exchange demands with the employer in the last week of September. Once that step has been completed we will provide an update on when we expect we might actually begin negotiations.

We know this is going to be a challenging round at the table but we remain committed to securing the very best deal possible for the FI Community. We are emboldened by the value that the FI Community provides to the government and to the Canadians we all serve; and we will go to the table knowing the professionalism and commitment to public service of our group is beyond reproach.