A press release from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and the Office of Labour Minister Lisa Raitt tells me that she just told some conference on “Managing your Duty to Accommodate” that “We must embrace accommodation not just as a matter of law, but because it is part of the values that make up our national DNA.” This evidently has something to do with employment equity.
Now I don’t mean to nitpick over the words politicians use as if they bore some legitimate relationship to the ideas they hold. But if it’s part of the values that make up our national DNA I don’t see why we need a law and nagging from a minister. And if it’s not why do you say it?
Personally I hoped liberty was part of our national DNA but I think that line died out or something.
Oh, that press release also said “Every day half a million Canadians miss work because of a mental health problem.” That’s an impressive number considering that, according to StatsCan, our labour force was only 18.7 million people in 2011 of whom 17.3 million had jobs. So Ms. Raitt is saying 3 percent of employed people miss work every day because of a mental health problem… and unless it’s the same 3 percent, in which case presumably they’re on long-term disability, nearly 10 percent of employed Canadians must have such serious mental problems they miss a day of work every 3 days. Or 20 per cent miss one day in seven… or half of us miss nearly a day every 3 weeks for mental health reasons… or each of us misses one day in 34.
Interestingly, Statistics Canada also says in 2010 on average full-time Canadian workers were absent from the job for personal reasons for 9.1 days a year. Since a typical work year is about 250 days long that means about 3.6 per cent of work days were missed for all personal reasons combined other than maternity and parental leave. Of course it’s not always one person missing a full day; sometimes it’s two people each being absent for half a day. But however you divide it up, a 3.6 per cent absence rate is the equivalent of 623,000 people missing work each day. So according to Minister Raitt, 80 per cent of all workplace absences for personal reasons are for mental illness.
Now here’s the weird bit. Since StatsCan says about 71 per cent of all workplace absences are for all forms of illness and disability, not only does no one miss work for any other medical reason but more than 100,000 more people are away due to mental illness alone than are away due to all forms of illness combined. In other words, minus 9 percent are also away for… no wait, 9 percent are there but absent because of… oh, forget it.
You’re no better at math than at political philosophy, are you?