Canadians clocking extreme work hours with little gain

This article was published in t.o. night newspaper on August 31 2010.

As Labour Day — the anniversary of the triumphs of the labour movement — approaches, the holiday reminds many Canadians that they do not have what the movement fought for: work-life balance.

A recent study conducted by Everest College found that 35% of Canadians clock 10 or more hours working and commuting each day. Albertans work the most, with 44% spending more than 10 hours per day away from home. B.C.’s residents, on the other hand, are true to their laid-back reputation with only 28% working long hours. Carol Stanford, president of Everest College’s north campus, says she is afraid extreme work hours will soon become “the new norm.”
“In Ontario, 38 per cent of people are working 10 hours or more including commute time, meaning they lack a proper work-life balance. The fear is that people will get stuck working these hours, without realizing they have other options.”
Everest College has developed a four-step plan called “Get a L.I.F.E.” to help Canadians better balance their work and personal lives. “The first step is for people to ‘Let go of their fears,’ ” said Stanford. “People are stuck in careers that are not rewarding and that they are not enjoying.” The second step is to “Investigate your options,” the third is to “Further your education” and the final step is to “Enjoy your new job and your new life.” “If you’re unhappy with your job, start asking questions and know your options. With Labour Day approaching, now is the perfect time,” says Stanford.
According to a study published by Canadian Social Trends, one third of Canadians identify themselves as workaholics, and these individuals have poorer health than those who do not identify as workaholics. The study also revealed that both self-identified workaholics and non-workaholics have the same job and financial satisfaction.
The Everest study also found that married people are more likely to put in longer hours than those who are single. “It’s a real problem because Canadians are putting pressure upon themselves to work longer hours and put in more ‘face time,’” says Stanford. “This is an old way of thinking. We should be working smarter, instead of worrying about working harder. These long hours are not really what people want, because it forces them to take time away from their families.”
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