The Alberta Federation of Labour reacted today
to a new study by Statistics Canada looking at work hours across the country.
The study revealed that Albertans work the most hours of any province in the
“Albertans are working our fingers to the bone in this boom,” says AFL
President Gil McGowan. “I wonder what price we pay for these long hours.”
“Everyone is pushing hard to get the work done, putting in extra hours.
While this might be admirable on one level, I am left very concerned,” notes
“First, longer work hours are causing an increase in workplace accidents
and fatalities. Tired, stressed out workers with bosses pushing them to work
harder and longer create unsafe working conditions.”
“Extra hours at work also mean fewer hours with your family. It means
less time to be in your community with friends and neighbours. That negatively
affects quality of life. Is this the kind of province we want to build?”
The study showed that Albertans averaged 1,880 hours at work a year –
more than 36 hours a week, after removing vacation time. This is the highest
in the country. More significant is the finding that 12.5% of workers – again
the highest in Canada – work more than 2,300 hours. A whopping 6.4% work more
than 2,700 hours a year, which equals more than 51 hours a week.
“The main culprits in long work hours are agriculture and oil and gas.
Agriculture is exempt from basic employment standards, which means there are
no protections for workers. Oil and gas has become a wild west. We need to get
a handle on these industries,” observes McGowan.
McGowan believes we need to make quality of life a bigger priority, which
includes reducing the number of hours we work. “What good is a big paycheque
if your family is a mess and you have no time to enjoy the fruits of your
“We should see this study as a warning signal that our boom is
unsustainable at this pace. We need to get smarter and more balanced.”