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Extra, Extra: Doug Ford on Streetcars, Kevin O’Leary on Government Cheese, and a Message About Doctor’s Notes

Every weekday’s end, we collect just about everything you ought to care about or ought not to miss.

  • “Nothing is more frustrating for people driving downtown than getting stuck behind a streetcar on Dundas, on King, or on Queen,” says Doug Ford, seeing things, as always, from the transit commuter’s point of view. He admits that we won’t be able to get rid of our streetcars any time soon, but wants to replace streetcars with buses on three downtown routes, and insists that in future, the City should move its transit—where else?—underground.
  • Kevin O’Leary, one of the CBC’s very own dragons, recently appeared on CNBC and launched into a tirade that covered a great deal of ground: the eating of government cheese, philosophy degrees, and debtors’ prison were among the many subjects he touched on. What’s especially impressive is that not one of those topics appears to have had much to do with the topic actually under discussion.
  • The Ontario Medical Association is asking employers who demand doctor’s notes from workers to stop doing that already: sick employees who venture forth to acquire such notes have a tendency to make other people in doctor’s offices ill, thus creating the need for even more doctor’s notes. And so on.

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Comments

  • Instigator

    “Nothing is more frustrating for people driving downtown than getting stuck behind a streetcar on Dundas, on King, or on Queen.”

    Good. Next time leave your car at home.

    • linnyqat

      Yup. That’s why David Miller took the subway. It was also a great way to increase his visibility with constituents. I have a couple of friends who chatted with him during their morning commutes.

      • nevilleross

        But sadly for Toronto, he didn’t stay mayor.

    • Savannah

      The Fords only ride the subway after midnight when they’re too cracked out to sleep.

  • Sean_Marshall

    “Nothing is more frustrating for people driving downtown than getting stuck behind a streetcar on Dundas, on King, or on Queen.”

    Then stop commuting to City Hall via Dundas Street! Both RoFo and DoFo always take Dundas inbound when they show up to work.

    • Paul Lloyd Johnson

      Or better still, use the TTC. Be a man of the people. I guess that’s difficult when you’re a born and bred multimillionaire.

      • wklis

        “Driving” that’s the keyword. If more people took the streetcar instead of driving, that would improve taking the streetcar.

        How many people go with you when you drive, Doug? One? None? Nothing frustrated actual transit users than cars with only the driver blocking streetcars.

        • beljim

          It’s ok to be in a drunken stuper on a street car. It’s kind of frowned upon in your car.

  • HotDang

    Kevin O’Leary and Doug Ford: two people who should shut up much more often.

  • OgtheDim

    Sick notes exist because:

    a) some employees are crappy and can’t be trusted

    b) some contracts demand them

    c) some employers are hide bound to rules and regulations.

    The OMA can talk all it wants but because all 3 of these things will never be resolved, sick notes are here to stay.

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      d) some employers are crappy and don’t trust their employees

      • Savannah

        Some employees aren’t trustworthy. I went back through one of my employee’s sick day record this year and every single one of them was taken on a Monday or a Friday – and occasionally a Monday and a Friday in the same week! Miraculously, whenever she returned to work she showed no signs of her “illness”.

        • estta

          That should be dealt with on an employee-by-employee basis, rather than dumping the problem on innocent employees and healthcare facilities.

          • Savannah

            You can’t have a policy that applies to some employees and not others. Either you accept everyone at their word and deal with the abuse of sick days, or you require a sick note for everyone trying to extend sick leave beyond two days. Sick notes also confirm that an employee has, in fact, sought treatment for their ailment.

            It’s unfortunate that some employees feel the need to abuse sick days, which are not a requirement of business to provide. They are the ones that muck it up for the rest of us.

          • estta

            Sure you can! And you should. If you have one employee who can’t handle say, working from home, it would be ridiculous to cancel remote work for everyone. If you have an office full of reasonable-PTO-using employees, and one employee who abuses them, it is absolutely reasonable to sit that employee down, talk about how to solve the problem, and put a solution in place.

          • Savannah

            I take it you don’t manage people. I have, for 20 years. In my experience with several companies, at businesses where there are no policies regarding illness and doctor’s notes, sick days tend to be maxed out by a larger portion of the staff than they do when policies against sick day abuse exist. Illnesses also tend to go on longer than they do when a sick note is required.

            At my current company the sick note policy was introduced four years ago, after senior management crunched the numbers and we realized that two-thirds of employees were maxing out their yearly sick time. With no other changes, the year following the introduction of a sick note policy absenteeism dropped by 45%.

          • estta

            Actually I do. I’ve found that managing them as individuals leads to better results. I’m not sure what industry you are in, but I’ve never had a team max out sick days.

          • Savannah

            You manage everyone as an individual, but corporate policies provide direction for all employees regarding the expectations of the company.

            We have never had an entire team max out sick days, but two-thirds of our employees, for various reasons, were maxing out their sick time. As we saw once we instituted the policy, many had been using them as extra vacation time, not for actual illness. We had one employee who would call in sick every November from a hotel in Florida to take an extra week of vacation. It was addressed with him a number of times and the situation did not change. Once the sick note policy was introduced his week-long November vacations stopped.

          • estta

            Was that the only issue with the employee? I’ve found that sort of thing is usually a symptom of a bigger problem.

          • Savannah

            Other than an out-of-whack sense of entitlement (expecting an office instead of a cubicle, thinking he deserved 4 weeks vacation after being with the company for one year, expecting a 10% annual raise when he’s quite well paid to begin with) he does good work. If he didn’t he would have been let go long ago. And he doesn’t seem eager to leave. I think deep down he knows he’s not going to get much better of a deal elsewhere.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            It sounds to me like their were issues with the workplace environment. People who don’t want to be at work find excuses not to be.

          • OgtheDim

            Serious question:

            Is Rob Ford habitually late because he hates his workplace environment?

            Or is he just a crappy employee?

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            He doesn’t even realize he’s an employee, so he’s hardly a good example.

          • OgtheDim

            I wasn’t talking about him as an example, but as a case study.

            Does he hate where his job is?

            Or is he just a bad worker?

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Probably both. City Hall is full of those greedy civil servants who think they know best just because it’s their job to, and mouthy councillors who talk back instead of voting the way they should. Not to mention the coral reef of press he has to drag himself through just because he got in a drunken stupor, did some crack, and hung out with a gang.

          • Savannah

            The company is an internet start-up. If anything the culture was to permissive to function as effectively once it got past 100 employees. We still have flex time, culture pods, break spaces and collaboration zones, but absenteeism has dropped considerably since the introduction of the sick note policy.

          • OgtheDim

            We are discussing a performance issue, not a strategic use of where to work issue.. If you don`t make the rules the same for everybody, somebody sues you.

            I agree that, in theory, we should be able to discuss this as adults and allow people to work out issues with poor employees without having to create a system to make everybody follow a rule just because of some twit.

            Labour law disagrees with us.

          • estta

            I’m not saying you would require just that employee to get sick notes, I’m saying you’d address their performance issues one-on-one, rather than a policy for everyone. PIPs are perfectly legal. If you need mandatory sick notes to have employees who don’t abuse PTO, then you’re doing something wrong.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Or you change your policy. Employees can’t abuse unlimited sick days if they aren’t offered unlimited sick days, for example. I’ve worked in places that don’t, so I know it’s possible.

          • Savannah

            I’m not sure where you got the idea that we had unlimited sick days – we don’t. You can’t max out unlimited sick days.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            I misread an earlier post. Still, I’m sure there are ways to combat habitual absenteeism in a way that doesn’t treat every employee with suspicion.

            It’s possible to implement a policy that applies too all employees but will only need to be applied to very few of them. Think of short-term medical leave. Very few employees are likely to need five weeks off to deal with and recover from serious medical issues, but the policy is there for everyone.

          • Savannah

            That’s exactly what a sick note policy does. Very few of our employees take three or more sick days in a row, but those that do are required to obtain a doctor’s note.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Which is unfair to those who are legitimately ill but not in need of a doctor. When I get a migraine I can’t function, which includes getting to a doctor. Fortunately I’ve never been off more than a day with one (typically a half day suffices), but I’ve worked with people who get them in clusters, or theirs last days instead of hours. There’s no treatment for migraines, so what’s the point of going to the doctor? What’s the point of going to the doctor for anything that rest or something off the shelf will treat?

            Making sick employees jump through hoops to prove they aren’t conning you is a good way to spread communicable diseases to other employees*, not just people waiting at the doctor’s office.

            *A client of mine has an entire floor in a downtown tower, all open concept, ringing the elevators in the middle. Every autumn without fail someone in the office gets sick, and you can watch it spread from person to person, circling around the floor, through to spring. How many of them come in and infect others rather than take a few days off because it’s such a hassle to go to the doctor (and pay) just for a note? How many sick days are used collectively compared to the few that could have been used to stop it at the source?

          • Savannah

            We have two employees who suffer with migraines. Each of them has a doctor’s note on file outlining their situation. We don’t require them to seek a new note each time as it is an ongoing problem. We also do not require the one employee we have that has cancer to get a new note every time she has chemo (which usually knocks her out for 3 days or so). With ongoing health issues this is a reasoned approach.

            And regardless of a sick note policy, any open concept office is a breeding ground for colds and flus in the winter. The vast majority of seasonal illness does not require three or more days off. If it does, it generally also requires some sort of medical intervention.

          • rich1299

            Similarly to people who have migraines people with mental health problems also very often cannot make it to a Dr let alone their specialist on any given day and a GP just isn’t going to cut it sometimes especially since in many cases the reason they can’t get to work is because they can’t get out their door in the first place. By the time they can there are no symptoms a GP at a walk-in clinic can verify. At one point I was seeing various Drs, 2 specialists and my GP, I explained to my manager that I could get a sick note in a few days from one of the Drs I saw all of whom were treating different health problems but who were all well aware of all of my health problems. However they started insisting I get a Dr note from only one Dr, it could be anyone of three Drs I was seeing but they insisted on notes form just one of them within 1 day of my return to work. That was an impossible task for me to do, eventually I was officially disciplined for not being able to do it. They already had a couple dozen Dr notes from me from those same 3 Drs, not all of them indicated I had a chronic illness but enough of them did for my manager to get the message.

            My manager just didn’t believe that mental health problems could be debilitating if you weren’t ranting and screaming like a caricature from an 1800′s lunatic asylum and must have believed I was faking the notes, though he could always look them up or just didn’t believe my Drs. and just wanted me gone. Employees that had health problems that only affected their bodies instead of their brains were shown all sorts of consideration enabling them to stay on the job for as long as possible, the polar opposite of how I was treated just because of one manager.

          • Savannah

            I’m sorry you have a difficult time with your current employer. Not all employers are as unreasonable as yours would appear to be. Perhaps you should seek other employment in a more supportive environment, which might also help with your depression/anxiety issues.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            “Doesn’t require” in whose opinion? Both the common cold and flu are contagious for several days once symptoms are first noticed, at which point everyone exposed stands the chance of getting it and passing it on too. So from a management position would you rather have one person off sick for 3-4 days, or a quarter of your staff off one or two days each? I’d rather the guy sitting next to me stay home, on the honour system, than come in and infect me because it was easier than getting a note.

          • Savannah

            The vast majority of colds and flus don’t require three or more days off work if the employee is managing their symptoms. You are most contagious in the first 2-3 days following infection, but it also takes 2-3 days for symptoms to show up, so essentially you’re past your most infectious state by the time you’re too sick to come to work, not once you’ve been off for three days.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Actually you are contagious within 18 hours of noticing the first symptoms and up to five days following, depending on what sort of stuff you’re discharging. It’s an old wive’s tale that you’re only infectious before your body is actively discharging the virus – that just doesn’t make sense.

            Someone may not need that time off – they’re capable and willing to work – but it’s undeniably in everyone else’s best interest (including HR/management) if they don’t come in during that period and spread it to everyone else, starting a chain reaction of infection and sick days. One person taking four days off is better than seven each taking a day.

          • Savannah

            With all due respect, every healthcare source I’ve read indicates you are most contagious within the first 3 days of having a cold, and that symptoms can take 2-3 days to appear.

            That would indicate that taking 3 days off after you start showing symptoms is unnecessary, especially if employees are responsible enough to treat their symptoms and practice good hygiene practices.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            And I’ve read otherwise. When you begin being contagious really isn’t the point though: as long as you have symptoms, you’re contagious.

            “…if employees are responsible enough to treat their symptoms and practice good hygiene practices.”

            You’re expecting a lot of employees you don’t even trust to come to work.

          • OgtheDim

            So have I and it usually cuts the absenteeism down.

            Unfortunately, there are also a few cases where it won’t help.

            A couple of times, in my experience, people have habitually abandoned a day at work every few weeks, using up their sick days and then voluntarily giving up days of pay on other days. Sure, there could be good reason. And, in each case, I asked if there was something and pointed to resources to be able to get support.

            But, covering shifts takes effort on the staff’s part. As a manager, figuring out that stuff is my job – for staff to have to do work arounds waiting for somebody else to come in to cover is not fair. Yeah, you’d think people would be motivated but not everybody is all the time. And, as much as we all want to be Mr. Fezziwig, sometimes its just not a good idea to let people keep doing this as it endangers the ability to get enough revenue to keep staff.

            Sucks but some people just deserve to be let go.

            One way you can create a case for dismissal is to ask for sick notes. In my experience, the person has gotten the hint and quit.

            I guess what I am saying is that life is not as simple as the OMA makes it out to be or as we would like it to be. There is a lot more grey in this world.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Some people deserve to be let go, but not everyone deserves to be presumed a liar until a doctor’s note says otherwise. If someone is frequently absent and it’s eating into revenue, that in itself is the case for dismissal. People were let go for less during the recent recession.

          • rich1299

            I’ve been presumed a liar despite thick wads of Dr notes. Some managers are just assholes.

          • OgtheDim

            Yup.

        • rich1299

          Not every illness is visible, not everyone gets colds or flus or other visually obvious health issues. Many people have mental health problems, 1 in 5 will in their life times, for many people with anxiety problems it varies by the day of the week, Sundays and Mondays are usually the worst days for many though depending on what makes their anxiety worse Fridays also make sense as a bad anxiety day, pretty much any day that involves change can induce debilitating anxiety and/or panic attacks.

          I’ve had serious problems with my employer because I have problems with depression and anxiety and I too was often too ill on Mondays to make it work, most of the week would be hell except for a bit of Saturday night but Mondays were the worst for me and a lot of other people with anxiety problems.

          Just because you can’t see them ill and they’re ill on specific days it doesn’t mean its not a real and debilitating illness.

          • PlantinMoretus

            Hear hear. Like 10-15% of women, I have endometriosis. For me this means I have VERY painful menstrual cramps, 12 times a year. Around the same time every month, as a matter of fact! Usually my pain management methods work to keep it under control but 3-4 times a year things go off the rails and I need to take a day or two off.

            Thing is, to the lay person, this all looks and sounds like bullshit. I don’t *look* like there is anything wrong with me. Layer on all the stigma around women’s health issues, and boom! it’s easy to just assume I’m faking. Some bosses and co-workers have. Pisses me off no end.

            I think employers should clue in to the fact that employees with genuine health issues generally DON’T say much about them around the workplace, to avoid stigma and gossip, and that it’s usually the fakers who gasbag about their aches & pains.

          • OgtheDim

            That’s an issue of communication with the employer.

            Again, the whole sick note thing isn’t going to go away just because the illness is not discussed with co-workers.

          • PlantinMoretus

            Of course I’ve told my employer. Most people with ongoing health issues requiring sick leave do. But that doesn’t mean the employer will *believe* you or stop requiring sick notes.

          • Savannah

            As a woman I do appreciate and understand that this is a painful condition for you, and it would be very simple to provide a doctor’s note to your employer indicating your condition and the possibility that it might require time off for pain management. That would help to validate the condition with your employer and I’m certain it would cut down on any stigma you might face. It’s hard to argue with a doctor’s note.

            At our company you would not be questioned about taking a sick day every few months, especially with a doctor’s note on file for an ongoing condition. The only time sick time is raised with employees is when odd patterns develop (like only taking sick days on Mondays and Fridays, or only taking sick days immediately following your vacation time) or you require three or more days off in a row.

          • PlantinMoretus

            A good idea, but I’ve never heard of a doctor writing a note like that. Part of the problem is attitudinal/cultural. I’ve even had surgery for this condition, and still some people doubt that it’s “really that bad”, or figure the surgery should have fixed it once and for all. Oh well.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            I’ve also never heard of doctor’s writing – or employers asking for – a note saying “so-and-so gets migraines”. Despite working with, and for, numerous people who suffer from migraines.

          • Savannah

            In this case it wasn’t mental illness that was this employee’s issue – she admitted she would party until 4 in the morning all weekend and just wasn’t ‘up’ to getting up on Mondays (and she didn’t start until 10 a.m.). The Fridays were also usually immediately preceding a previously booked vacation.

            As well, I never said mental illness isn’t a real and debilitating illness – I’ve dealt with depression myself – but in order to take three days off in a row it requires a doctor’s note at our company, like any other illness.

      • OgtheDim

        I pretty much thought point c covered that.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    Why doesn’t Deco Labels just fund three replacement subway lines for these downtown elite routes? Corporations love building public transit, Rob said so!

    • Jason Kucherawy

      Deco could at least sponsor a new TTC station!

      • bobloblawbloblawblah

        I’ll bet the Gravy Train will run through that station…..

    • torontothegreat

      That would be a great question to lob at Ford.

  • Savannah

    ““Nothing is more frustrating for people driving downtown than getting stuck behind a streetcar on Dundas, on King, or on Queen.”

    I can think of one thing: 100 people on a streetcar getting stuck behind one idiot in a vehicle making a left turn during rush hour (which half the time is an illegal one).

  • bobloblawbloblawblah

    ““Nothing is more frustrating for people driving downtown than getting stuck behind a streetcar on Dundas, on King, or on Queen.”

    I can think of one thing more frustrating: listening to blowhard numbskull Twin Mayor Doug Ford try and convince us that yet another of his bonehead ideas is the solution to our problems.

  • Cranky Investor

    One of the problems with this whole doctor note issue is that people confuse three separate problems.

    First, is absenteeism. This is a management issue, not a medical issue, as it is caused by something other than a disability or impairment.

    Disability is the central problem. It can cause absence, but not always. For example Type 2 diabetes is a disability, but properly treated it does not cause impairment.

    Last is impairment. Caused by disability, at its worst it results in absence from work. This is where the medical input is required. Can the employer accommodate? Sometimes, living with some degree of unplanned absence is the required accommodation, but if this becomes too extreme, then undue hardship may be the result. Sometimes, some other change in hours, working conditions, duties, etc., may resolve the issue. Sometimes sick leave or even LTD is the answer. Someone with the flu has an impairment you don’t want to accommodate. Someone with migraines may be able to cope with flexible scheduling.

  • vampchick21

    I’m so bloody sick of the crap that Doug Ford spews I can’t even.

    • bobloblawbloblawblah

      ………finish your comment?

      ;=)

      • vampchick21

        something something something dark side.