Later this month, the board of directors at St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital will sit down to determine the next chapter in the Paul Collins saga.
The CEO’s one-year retire/rehire contract expires at the end of the year, and a likely scenario would see the board push for a two- or perhaps three-year extension so Collins can hang around for the hospital expansion/redevelopment.
In a letter to the editor on July 13, Bob McCaig wrote, “I find it morally repugnant that this practice (double-dipping) is so widespread. Our political masters are turning a blind eye to a practice that is forcing young people to either wait idly or leave Ontario while the pigs at the trough gobble up a final helping.”
Following publication of that letter, McCaig was buoyed by the favourable public response and undertook further research into double-dipping and we present his findings, which he warns is “a crime against our youth.”
He states when civil servants simply retire in order to return to work on a per diem basis, either part- or full-time, while their replacements are underemployed, “it’s a crime.”
“I called it morally repugnant in an earlier letter and have been roundly praised by both friends and strangers. They see our kids as being part of a throw-away generation, unneeded until those clinging to both their jobs and a great pension plan choose to either retire or die.”
He continues, “Young professionals, fully trained and ready to provide technically superior teaching are instead waiting tables in restaurants — not quite what the younger generation had in mind when they entered teachers’ college, having already completed a three-year university degree.
“In Great Britain, where retirement can be had from some government positions as young as 50 or 55 years of age, there are literally hundreds of thousands of civil servants in all levels of service to the British people as policemen, firemen, teachers, etc. The practice of double-dipping is as common as stopping at the pub each night for a pint and given no more thought as well.
“Can anyone wonder why youth had become so disenchanted as to be involved in the riots that crippled Britain a few weeks ago,” notes McCaig.
“As a society we have developed an ‘us versus them’ mentality and it’s becoming a dangerous practice. If it is kept up, we may one day experience the same irrational behaviour as witnessed overseas.”
McCaig recently asked the Thames Valley District School Board to indicate what level of double-dipping was being practiced. Elgin trustee and board chairman Tracy Grant replied as follows:
“The board receives a report on the status of teachers who are on the occasional lists on an annual basis.Retired teachers are given no special consideration for being added to the list. Our preference is for new graduates, as they will become our future full-time teachers.
Grant adds, “Our yearly hire of new individuals to the occasional list intentionally targets identified program or qualification needs, such as French or technology. Other staff and administrators who have retired are brought in where their specialized qualifications are needed.”
She advised as of June 30, the board had 7,571 permanent employees and 3,394 temporary employees.
“We have 385 retired teachers either on our occasional list, continuing education, or lesson markers. They are restricted by the teachers’ pension plan as to the number of days they can work before having to suspend pension payments.
“Within the occasional teachers group, we have, as of today, 2,052 teachers, 385 are retirees,” summed up Grant.
McCaig says he appreciates Grant’s forthright reply.
“So many politicians or their agents obfuscate and play word games rather than just come right out with the truth,” he charges.
“When I asked Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman for the number of employees working for the City of St. Thomas who were involved in double dipping, the manager of human resources, Graham Hart duly reported that the City of St. Thomas had none,” relays McCaig.
“Of course he didn’t report that Bob Wheeler was one such manager involved in double dipping, but then Wheeler is not an employee of the City of St. Thomas. Wheeler is an employee of the St. Thomas Elgin Development Corp., a wholly owned corporation of the City of St. Thomas. A textbook case of obfuscation if ever there was one.
“When Grant reported they had 385 retired teachers as part of the occasional teachers group, she was also reporting both the TVDSB and those 385 teachers were no longer paying into the teachers’ pension plan, thus saving the board the employer share of the pension contribution.
However, McCaig points out, “Tragically there is no real saving at all. It just so happens the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is currently underfunded by $17 billion and counting. Who will pay the underfunding shortfall? Be assured teachers expect the Ontario government, through general tax increases, will pay the shortfall.
“Now would be an ideal time to ask politicians and their leaders what they plan to do about this deplorable situation. On Oct. 6, you can express your opinion by voting for the candidates who best meet the needs of our society in this critical matter.”
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Nobody wants to raise taxes, but we’re in a position where if we don’t raise the money, it’s not going to go ahead.”
Elgin county Warden Dave Menill on a preliminary proposal for a three-way split with the City of St. Thomas, Elgin county and the St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital Foundation to raise approximately $12 million needed for the hospital revitalization project announced last month.
City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow @ianscityscope