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Ontario’s human resources director has ruled that, as a municipal employee, city councillor Al Maghnieh is entitled to sick pay – unless he leaves of his own accord.
But that exemption does not apply to recreational sick leave, said Mr Maghnieh, who has just returned from vacation after an unplanned two-week break.
His office said he has been working since 1 January (one day before the suspension).
Mr Maghnieh is also mayor of Scarborough, Canada’s sixth-largest city.
The Toronto Star first reported the situation.
“It’s legally questionable, so I don’t think the city should lose any money,” Mr Maghnieh told reporters.
The human resources department said it could not comment on a case that was still under investigation.
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Mr Maghnieh’s suspension and payment of sick leave are similar to an example from a year ago.
The city of Stoney Creek, Ontario, docked the pay of resident Joyce Ibberson after she posed on Facebook for an interview about a vaccination she received and opened with the question: “Have you taken the Canadian Flu Repellent Touching in the genital area, Edmonton?”
Her assertion that the vaccine had changed her menstrual cycle was “ridiculously offensive and alarmingly invasive”, wrote Dr Dave Bellew, the municipal councillor who headed an investigation into Ms Ibberson’s comments.
She took time off with a chest infection, but about a week after she returned to work, someone called to complain about Ms Ibberson’s Facebook post, he said.
Mr Maghnieh did not reveal how much sick pay he was receiving, but he has a worker’s compensation insurance policy in addition to his city salary.
He said he filed a formal complaint and was informed that he could not use the paid leave granted to recreational sick leave to go on vacation.
“I tried to justify it as an absolutely necessary fit but still a problem for the HR department,” Mr Maghnieh said.
“I didn’t feel comfortable doing that, or saying it to someone privately, but it’s still not clear in the policy.”
One of the questions on the city’s sick leave policy is whether it applies to recreational sick leave if people go on vacation.
A city website says the policy includes “therapeutic” unpaid sick leave, meaning it is a part of the recreational sick leave, but that they cannot recover while they are not working.
And another city site says a person’s “indigestion and immune system is bolstered” if someone spends an extended time away from work.
“A person with this kind of condition also has immune checkpoints that would normally tell them not to do the things they do,” the policy states.
The mayor of Stoney Creek, known as such because of the extensive nature of its neighbourhoods, considered Ms Ibberson’s argument flimsy and unsuccessful when she first tried to have her pay docked.
“My advice was that it was too flimsy, and that there wasn’t enough to consider in it, so there was no evidence to support it,” Dr Bellew said.
“We found in Dr Louise Vickers’ opinion that there was no connection. We believe we had enough evidence to disprove the doctor’s view, and certainly enough evidence to disagree with it.”