Comparing Sick Days and Special Leave Days in Teacher Contracts Across Canada

With Provincial negotiations finished, the local Teachers Unions are now consulting their members about negotiations over local contracts with school boards. Below is a table put together by Royal West teacher Katharine Cukier comparing sick day (provincially negotiated in Quebec) and special leave day (locally negotiated with school boards) provisions in collective agreements across Canada with those of teachers in the English Montreal School Board.

WonkaDolbecTo put the information in this table in context, a few words about salary. In recent years there have been two rigorous comparisons of teachers salaries across Canada. The BC Teachers Federation’s document compared the top and bottom of the payscale of teachers across Canada in two categories in 2013/2014. In three of the four comparisons Quebec’s teachers were dead last in terms of salary. A similar comparison covering the same year by Statistics Canada echoed these results finding Quebec’s teachers at the bottom of almost every category of comparison.

However, looking at the top and bottom of the payscale does not tell the whole story. There is also the issue of the number of steps in the payscale. While most provinces have between 10 and 12 steps on teacher payscales, Quebec has 17. To understand just how much this impacts teachers in Quebec, one can compare the earnings over 25 years based on the payscales in current collective agreements. Doing so reveals the following:

In comparing Quebec’s situation with respect to sick days and special leave days there are a few points to consider:

  • Your left over days accumulate or not depending on the province– it does everywhere except Ontario and Quebec – but in Ontario, if you fall seriously ill, you are much better protected
  • All provinces have labour-standards protected days for death in family
  • Special leaves are sometimes deducted from sick bank, sometimes not.
  • The national average of annual leave days that can be used for illness (one’s own or one’s family members) is 17. In Quebec it is only 8 for individuals (6 sick + 1 personal + 1 medical) and 10 for teachers with families (6 sick + 1 personal + 1 medical + 2 family). That is a spectacular difference that makes a huge difference on teachers lives: especially those of us with children, chronic illnesses, or sick relatives. Illness in family has a well known impact on women’s lives, health and overall lifetime earning.
  • Quebec is one of the only provinces with a ‘penalty period’ before one can access benefits for an illness that is more long-term nature. In Quebec we must either give up 5 sick days, or if our bank is exhausted, 5 days of pay, before we can have access to the salary insurance which covers us for 75% of our salary. Teachers in Ontario, for example, have no such penalty period and are compensated for 90% of their pay for the first 60 days of a serious illness.
  • Quebec is also the only province in Canada where the employer contributes nothing to teacher health insurance plans.

Annual Sick Leave in Days

Sick leave considerations: accumulates or not

Special leaves * and interesting features

(I focus on religious and sickness in family)


15 Roll over Compassionate leave 100% two weeks

Illness in family,  up to 5 days deducted from sick leave bank


11 Roll over 5 special leaves for family

Religious leave deducted from sick bank.

Off for illness up to 60 days at 90% of salary and no penalty period.





Roll over Special leave deducted from sick bank

Nova Scotia


20 Accumulate up to 195 days 10 days for sick family (paid)

3 religious days



New Brunswick


15 Accumulate up to 195 days 3-4 for family medical

Can use bank in advance (you have a long illness and not enough in your bank you can borrow against the following year up to 15 days…)


20 Roll over 4 max family(deducted from bank)

3 max religious (paid)

Newfoundland & Labrador

20 Roll over 4 days family

3 days personal leave


20 Accumulate up to 190 days 2 parental

1 personal (2 personal at 40% salary)



15 Roll over Can use up to 10 days of sick leave for family

1 personal leave day

2 special request personal leave days


6 Instead of rolling over teachers are paid out at the end of each school year for unused days. The result is that teachers quickly lose any cushion for serious illness if they have no bank. My bank was gone in year 5 of my career. 1 personal leave day

1 medical leave day

2 days for the serious illness of a family member

2-3 religious days

2 days for unavoidable circumstances such as fire or flood

1 day for each of the following: baptism, marriage, ordination, graduation ceremony, change of residence


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