Give GNWT workers 5 paid wellness days, says MLA

GNWT building
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A regular MLA is calling for five additional paid ‘wellness days’ for GNWT workers to relax and recuperate.

“These past two years have been difficult ones for the public service,” Nahendeh MLA Shane Thompson told cabinet Tuesday, citing the recent position cuts and that union workers have gone without a signed contract for almost a year.

Nahendeh MLA Shane Thompson.

“As a result, our employees are not feeling good about their relationship to their employer. This needs to be fixed.”

Thompson is proposing five additional days off – dubbed ‘Shane Days’ by his fellow MLAs – for the third Friday of February, along with the Fridays before Victoria Day, August Civic Day, Labour Day and Thanksgiving.

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“This will give GNWT employees extra-long long weekends to recharge their batteries and return to work rested and enthusiastic about the work they do for the GNWT,” he said.

The days come as part of an overall wellness strategy Thompson is proposing to increase productivity, reduce stress and boost morale.

With it, he’s hoping to have stretching and walking programs implemented throughout the day to increase mobility as he says a lot of government jobs are sedentary.

“It’s about getting people healthier,” Thompson told Moose FM.

“If we can do these things like healthy walks, stretching and wellness days, I think that would help very much to benefit the productivity of what we’re trying to get through the door for workers.”

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‘Show employees that they are valued’

The proposal was brought up in the legislative assembly to Human Resources Minister Robert C. McLeod.

“We presently provide very generous vacation, sick, and special leave provisions to our employees,” McLeod told regular MLAs.

Thompson agrees that the GNWT currently offers some ‘really good’ packages, but brought up the issue of position cuts and remaining employees putting in more hours to fill the gap.

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While regular workers work between 37.5 to 40 hours a week, Thompson says many workers put in more than that.

“They put more hours into this,” he said. “With the cuts and eliminations to positions, and the potential for no raises resulting in the collective bargaining, it is important to show employees that they are valued.”

Thompson then asked the minister if he would commit to looking at the idea.

McLeod said the GNWT has wellness specialists looking into wellness days and that he would provide the researcher’s results to the committee at a later date.

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