Work absenteeism rates rose significantly in 2001, according to data from the Labour Force Survey.
An estimated 700,000 full-time employees, or about 7% of the total, were absent from work for all or part of any given week because of personal reasons, such as illness or disability, or personal or family responsibilities, excluding maternity leave. This was up considerably from 6.3% in 2000, and 5.5% in 1997.
As a result of these absences, 3.4% of usual weekly work time was lost in 2001. This "inactivity rate" was higher than the 3.2% in 2000, and 3% in 1997.
This translates into an average 8.5 days for each full-time employee, about half a day more than in 2000, and a little over a full day more than the 7.4 days five years earlier.
In total, an estimated 85.2 million workdays were lost because of personal reasons in 2001, up from 78.6 million in 2000 and 65.6 million in 1997.
Average workdays lost per full-time worker on account of own illness or disability rose over the five-year period from 6.2 days in 1997 to 7 days in 2001. Average workdays lost to personal and family responsibilities rose from 1.2 days to 1.5 days.
New funding is in the pipes to provide career counselling to unemployed people with disabilities.
Jane Stewart, minister of Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC), recently announced funding of $212,998 for Growth Opportunities.
"The Government of Canada is pleased to support a project that is helping Canadians overcome barriers to employment," said Judy Longfield, MP for Whitby-Ajax. "This initiative will provide the support and services that persons with disabilities need to return to the workforce."
Growth Opportunities, a project developed by META Vocational Services, will provide works skills assessment, individual counselling, assistance with labour market research and job search assistance.
The job seekers may also participate in skills training research and career transition workshops.
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