Manitoba·city hall roundup

Firefighters and paramedics take fewer sick days than most city workers, report suggests

Winnipeg firefighters and paramedics take fewer sick days on average compared to most other city workers, according to a new city report.

Water and waste staff call in sick most often; community services employees appear to be the healthiest

A firefighter quells flames emanating from a home on Manitoba Avenue last June. A new report suggests firefighters and their paramedic colleagues call in sick less often than most of their municipal-worker colleagues. (CBC)

Winnipeg firefighters and paramedics take fewer sick days on average, compared to most other city workers, according to a new city report.

In November, city council's finance committee asked city human-resources staff to look at sick time in all city departments. The request was issued after the committee received a report that found holiday time makes up the bulk of the absences that are driving up overtime costs for Winnipeg firefighters.

Winnipeg human-resources staff proceeded to tally up the sick days taken by city staff from 2012 to 2015. They found Winnipeg Fire-Paramedic Service employees took an average of just under eight sick days a year in that time frame.

During the same period, public works and police employees took an average of just over eight sick days a year, while transit workers took an average of about nine and water-and-waste staff took about 10 sick days a year.

Community services employees took the fewest sick days, average about six a year.

In the report, senior human resources manager Roberta Marsh cautioned not all sick days represent the same loss of hours.

"For example, a clerical staff person absent for one day shift due to illness records seven hours of sick leave, whereas a firefighter who is absent for one shift records 10 hours of sick leave on a day shift or 14 hours on a night shift," she writes.​

City, insurers reach police-HQ flood settlement

The City of Winnipeg has reached a deal with its insurers to settle a claim over rainstorm damage to the downtown police headquarters.

On Aug. 21, 2014, a severe downpour flooded the underground parking levels of the Winnipeg Police Service's new downtown headquarters, which was nearing completion at the time.

An August 2014 rainstorm severely damaged the new Winnipeg police headquarters. Court documents filed in December placed the total cost of the damages and losses at $8.3 million, but the city is now preparing to settle for $7.4 million. (CBC)
The flood damaged the high-voltage electrical vault that served both the new police headquarters and the adjoining office tower that faces on to Graham Avenue, causing what the city described as the critical failure of electrical and mechanical systems.

This further delayed the opening of the project, which was already over budget and behind schedule. It wound up opening three years late, in June 2016, at a total cost of $214 million, which was $79 million above the project cost approved by city council in 2009.

In a lawsuit filed in December, the city pegged the damage at $8.3 million and demanded its insurance companies pay out that amount.

A report heading to council's finance committee on Thursday recommends settling the claim at $7.4 million. It would take three to five years to recover the full amount through the courts, assuming there are no appeals, corporate risk manager Cindy Bauer states in the report.

Bauer called the rainstorm damage "one of the largest claim incidents in recent city history."