Canadians Working Too Much?

April 18, 2011

1-minute read

Despite all the political scandals, very distinct political visions for this country, and recent attempts by political leaders to get Canadians to "rise up", there doesn't seem to be a ton of public enthusiasm in this federal election campaign yet.

One problem may be that Canadians are simply working too much.

Recently released figures from OECD show that Canadians aren't just busy beavers but world-class workhorses when it comes to hours worked per day.

We are ranked fourth highest of 30 countries in terms of total minutes, paid and unpaid, worked each day and fifth highest in terms of paid work.  Only those in Japan, Korea, Mexico and China worked on average longer hours at their paid jobs each day than Canadians did.

Total minutes worked, paid and unpaid, per day Total minutes worked, paid and unpaid, per day
Other labour force survey figures show that the average working couple family is working a full day more per week than they did in the early 1980s.

Younger working families don't have the time or energy to "rise up" on top of all the paid and unpaid work we do each day.  It's mostly retired seniors who have the time to rise up, and some of them have to reach for their canes or walkers first.

One problem is that we've had stagnant real wages and rising costs for tuition, etc. Extending the retirement age will only further increase average working hours.   Is this really where we want Canada to lead: in cutting corporate taxes and working longer hours than most everyone else?

Another thing that all this overworking seems to have led to is less sex, at least sex of the productive/reproductive variety.   Canadians have have a fertility rate below the OECD average and, as the country summary for Canada notes "easily the lowest of the Anglophone OECD countries."  That's saying something.

I'd like to see political leaders promise to lead us in the opposite direction: more time off to enjoy the fruits of our labour and different types of family activities.  I'm sure we'd see many more Canadians rise up and become more politically engaged as well.

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