New Brunswick

9 sick firefighters still off the job

Nine of 16 firefighters who called in sick Wednesday were still off the job Thursday.

Nine of 16 firefighters who called in sick Wednesday were still off the job Thursday.

Fredericton Fire Department Chief Philip Toole said the other seven firefighters returned to work Thursday, with doctor's notes.

He said he expects the others will return as soon as possible.

"I fully expect that that's due to the fact that they have not had the opportunity to go in to see their doctors yet. So we'll be waiting for them anxiously to get in and get clearance to get back to work,"  Toole said.

Five replacement firefighters were called in on overtime Thursday, he said.

He said he was meeting with the city human resources department to review the doctor notes and make contingency plans for any further absences.

Firefighters, police officers and inside workers are most directly affected by a change to the city pension plan announced Tuesday night.

Their routine overtime will no longer count towards pensionable earnings.

The city is struggling to get its pension fund back into the black. City councillors argued that taxpayers will save $115,000 annually by eliminating overtime from pension calculations.

On Wednesday, 16 of 21 firefighters who were supposed to be on shift called in sick between 5:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.

The city needs at least 17 firefighters on duty to cover its four stations. Firefighters who were scheduled to be off were called in, while others were asked to work overtime. Bringing in these firefighters - paid in overtime - cost taxpayers $6,000.

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