Now that the Harper government is taking steps against the "rampant" absenteeism among the federal public service sector, I thought that it was time to take another look at absenteeism among Canada's 308 current sitting (or napping) MPs as recorded on the Parliamentary Business page of the Parliament of Canada website. Since Canadians take the time to pick up a stubby pencil every four years or thereabouts to vote for an MP whose primary purpose is to create and pass laws that represent the wishes of his or her constituents, actual attendance during all votes should be mandatory. Unfortunately, as you'll soon see, Canada's MPs seem to be AWOL during both the key and mundane business in the House.
Here is a list of the number of MPs voting since their spring break in 2013 showing the number of votes cast, the number of MPs absent, the percentage of MPs that were absent and a brief look at the importance of the legislation being voted on:
Here is a graph showing the rate of absenteeism:
Notice that, on average, 13.5 percent of Canada's MPs (or an average of 29) were absent during the 22 times that they voted in the House since April 16, 2013, reaching a peak of 26.3 percent when MPs were voting on First Nations' issues. In fact, my statistics don't tell the entire story. On June, 5th, 2013, only 156 out of 308 MPs showed up to vote for amendments to the Criminal Code that would see an increase in parole ineligibility. Certainly, it appears that the Opposition was against the motion; still, Liberals and NDP MPs are elected to show up and vote and not a single member of either political party chose to do so.
Back to the matter at hand. The federal public service had a total of 282,352 employees on March 31, 2011. According to Treasury Board President Tony Clement, a total of 19000 public servants (excluding long-term disability cases) are off work at any given time resulting in an absentee rate of 6.7 percent. Note that this rate is just under half the absentee rate of Canada's highly paid and underworked MPs.
Just in case you wondered, here is a list of the number of sitting days that Canada's Parliamentarians have on an annual basis going back to 2000:
Imagine, a whole 68 sitting days since the end of January 2013 and over 13 percent of MPs don't even bother to show up and vote!
In case that wasn't enough, here's a calendar showing the sitting days in green for all of 2013:
That's a whack of "days off" (and yes, I know that MPs have to spend time in their ridings).
While I'm not particularly a fan of the unions that represent Canada's public sector, I think that if the Harper government wants to fix an absentee problem those whose livelihood is funded by Canada's taxpayers, perhaps Mr. Harper and Mr. Clement should start with the House of Commons. What makes this problem of MP absenteeism even more galling is that Mr. Harper has now foisted another 30 MPs on Canadian taxpayers!
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