The City of Saskatoon says it still wants to farm out the management of sick days at Saskatoon Transit.

Last month, the city asked councillors to endorse another year of the pilot project.

The program, carried out by Saskatoon-based contractor Bridges Health, was launched for a nine-month period last year to try to reduce the high number of sick days taken by employees at Saskatoon Transit and help employees return to work.

Mayor Charlie Clark said he was underwhelmed by the initial results of the project and councillors asked if the city couldn't manage the absences in-house.

The city has since reported back and said it still wants to proceed with another year of the project, despite the fact that the city has three programs to manage absences and one of the unions representing transit workers is opposed to the project.

"Considering all factors, the administration believes that the best course of action would be to extend the Bridges contract for one additional year," according to a report to be discussed by councillors Monday.

In-house programs being retooled

While not explicitly stated as a reason for the extension, the city said it is currently reviewing its own absence management programs "to ensure processes are effective and understood by all parties to ensure consistency and alignment with the language in the collective bargaining agreements."  

Mass transit buses transportation commuters Saskatoon

One of the unions representing Saskatoon Transit workers says it's opposed to the extension, saying the program was not run smoothly last year. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC)

The city is also planning to launch a policy on absence management across the organization in 2018.

The original nine-month run of the program was hampered by initial staff shortages and lack of coordination.

The program needs a chance to be properly tested over a full year, the city has insisted. 

Continuing the pilot project to serve another 50 people will cost $75,000, the city has previously said.

In its latest report, the city says it would cost $50,000 but that the work "would need to be augmented by civic staff."