4 day work week ontario

Here's how a 4-day work week could become a reality in Ontario

The concept of a standardized four-day work week continues to titillate overworked, underslept and desperately stressed-out Ontario residents, who, not-so-coincidentally, will be heading to the polls next June for a provincial election that could make such a thing possible.

Ontario Liberal Party leader Steven Del Duca announced on Sunday that, should he be elected as Premier in 2022, his party would launch a pilot project to understand if a four-day-long work week "has merit here."

"People want the chance to work hard and work meaningfully, without their job having a brutally negative impact on families, mental health, the environment and quality of life," said Del Duca during his keynote address at the Liberal party's Annual General Meeting in North York this weekend.

"We need people in Ontario, particularly the next generation of workers, to believe they can live happy lives and pursue rewarding careers right here."

Radical as the idea may seem in our
"always on" pandemic-era climate, where remote employees are working longer hours than ever before, trials of a four-day work week model at corporations such as Microsoft in Japan have proven spectacularly successful, increasing overall productivity by as much as 40 per cent.

Governments in Spain, Scotland and even rural Ontario are all either considering or actively running trials of four-day-long work weeks, as are private companies, including Unilever in New Zealand and the U.S. fintech startup Bolt.

Iceland began studying the concept in 2015 with about 2,500 workers participating, all of them paid the same amount of money for working four days. Most workers dropped from about 40 hours a week to 35 or 36 hours.

The BBC reported in July of 2021 that 86 per cent of the country's workforce has now "either moved to shorter hours for the same pay, or will gain the right to," and that worker wellbeing "dramatically increased across a range of indicators, from perceived stress and burnout, to health and work-life balance."

A trial of the four-day-work week model in Ontario wouldn't necessarily look just like Iceland's: Del Duca's proposal would see employees work the same number of hours they usually do across four days rather than five.

"This creative concept is one that allows workers the option, for example, to work the same number of hours over four days rather than five," said Del Duca on Sunday, noting that the idea is being examined in other parts of the world.

"We are a party that believes in science expertise and evidence-based decision making, and so I want us to gather the facts in an open and transparent way and then make responsible decisions that are based on those facts and that evidence."

The party has yet to release any concrete deals about how many people or which types of workers would be included in the pilot project, nor how long such a trial would last, though a successful result would presumably see it expanded or at least extended.

Even without government intervention, a condensed work week could be in the future for Ontarians in industries where such a concept is viable; Several private companies in Canada have already implemented the policy with great success.

Del Duca was careful to note that his party isn't looking to cut down on work but to improve the way people in Ontario do their jobs — as well as live their lives.

"I was raised by my parents to believe in the value of hard work and the importance of hard work, and I've always known that there are no shortcuts to success," said the Liberal leader.

"But at the same time, and this is fundamentally important, we are here on this planet working to live, not living to work, and that's an important distinction that we should never forget."

Lead photo by

Jason Cook


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