Saskatoon·Q&A

Are mandatory unpaid days for government employees Sask.'s best move?

As the province faces a $1.2-billion deficit, Saskatchewan’s public-sector employees may face mandatory unpaid leave.

Professor of public strategy gives his take on the proposal

The government confirmed Wednesday that the province is considering requiring government employees to take one unpaid day off a month or every other month. (Cory Herperger/CBC)

As the province faces a $1.2-billion deficit, Saskatchewan's public-sector employees may face mandatory unpaid leave.

The government confirmed Wednesday that the province is considering requiring government employees to take one unpaid day off a month or every other month.

Brooke Dobni, professor of strategy at the Edwards School of Business at the University of Saskatchewan, gave his take on the proposed move.


What did you think when you heard the news that the province is thinking about introducing unpaid days off for some public-sector employees?

That's certainly an option given the deficits that we're going to be facing this year — $1.2 billion, maybe even $1.5 billion by the time the dust settles. So as governments look to trim back, a big part of their expenses deal with payrolls and salaries of government employees.

How does something like this affect the economy?

I know they're talking of about one day a month, which is equivalent to about five to 10 per cent of a person's salary. So you think about that, and after taxes, it's not as bad as it sounds initially — depending what tax bracket you're in. So there are adjustments, obviously. People will take home less money but after they make those adjustments, they actually might find that having a little extra time off is beneficial from a lifestyle point of view.

Should the province be looking at other options?

It's a good option. It's a good option if people buy into it because we're all in this province together. If we think about cutting services, do we give less money to education? There's only so much money out there and they've gotta make these types of decisions. I think it's a very rational decision to make because people maintain their jobs; they may take home less money but in the end, I think they'll be OK.

With files from CBC's Riley Laychuk

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