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Canadians are Overworked Too

Last updated by on January 17, 2016

<I hope you caught the misspelling there.>

Last October, I made the case that Americans are the most overworked citizens of any developed nation.

Some may have you believe otherwise – that we’re lazy, have a sense of entitlement, and will take handouts if at all possible.

Quite frankly, I was getting annoyed with some of these allegations and decided to do some research.

The data I found proved otherwise:

  • We are the ONLY industrialized nation to not have mandated paid sick leave.
  • We are the ONLY industrialized nation to not have mandated paid vacation.
  • We are the ONLY industrialized nation to not have mandated paid holidays (where else can you push Black Friday forward to Thanksgiving?).
  • We are the ONLY industrialized nation to not have mandated parental leave.
  • Americans work 137 more hours than Japanese workers, 260 more hours than British workers, and 499 more hours than French workers EVERY YEAR.
  • The average productivity per American worker has increased 400% since 1950, yet our work hours have increased over the same time.
  • In 1960, only 20 percent of mothers worked. Today, 70 percent of American children live in households where all adults are employed.
  • At least 134 countries have laws setting the maximum length of the work week; the U.S. does not.
  • In the U.S., 85.8 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females work more than 40 hours per week.

And did it ever strike a nerve! 324 tweets, 9,000+ Facebook likes, and a lively debate in the comments.

Little did I know that our friends to the north were feeling the same way…

overworked canadians

89% of Canadians Feel Overworked

A massive Towers Watson HR study of over 7.8 million workers across all industry revealed that:

  • 87% of Americans reported feeling overworked (up from 78% two years ago).
  • and a staggering 89% of Canadians reported feeling overworked (up from 64% two years ago).

This data supports my initial thesis from a year ago that Americans are overworked. Not too much of a surprise. But an even higher percentage of Canadians feeling overworked too? That was a bit of a surprise. So I decided to go back and compare some of my previous research on Americans to the same metrics for Canadians.

Here’s what I found:

  • Mandatory Leave: Canadians do have the third lowest total of mandatory paid holiday and vacation days at 18 (8 holiday + 10 vacation). Japan is second to last with 10 vacation days. The U.S. is dead last with zero in both.
  • Parental Leave: About a decade ago, Canada recently passed legislation to boost paid parental leave (shared between paternity and maternity) from 10 to 35 weeks, in addition to a mandatory 15 weeks for maternity (for a total of 50 weeks). I’m jealous… or will be if I ever have kids.
  • Average Hours Worked: In Canada, 68.8 percent of males and only 36.3 percent of females work more than 40 hours per week. In the U.S., 85.8 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females work more than 40 hours per week. Hmm… females live longer too… wonder if there’s a connection there.
  • Health Insurance: And of course, we all know that Canada has universal health care for all citizens – so you can take away the stress of losing your job and not having health coverage for you and your family.

Now, I’m not making the judgment that you Canucks aren’t really overworked or stressed out. You’re entitled to your own thoughts and feelings. You’re good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like you!

All I’m saying is – if you’re stressed out about work, be thankful you don’t live south of the border. Oh, and… how hard is it to get citizenship?

Overworked Canadian Discussion:

  • Are you an overworked Canadian? Why do you feel overworked?
  • If you’re an American, what advice do you have for our overworked neighbors to the north?

Related Posts:

U.S. vs. Canada Consumer Spending

About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 10,000+ others by getting FREE email updates. You can also explore every post I have written, in order.

  • Curtis says:

    Wow…I’m trying to find the point in writing this…besides stereotyping Canadians (right down to the only picture being that of Mounties), and trying to say that they are unjustified in feeling overworked. What does this teach us about personal finance? I really laughed when you wrote that because of Universal Health Care, there is no stress in losing your job in Canada. You’re right, because there are unlimited amounts of deer jerky and whale blubber to chew on, when you can’t afford groceries. Having lived in both the US and Canada, I know there are stresses and job related pressures in both countries. The cost of living up there is generally much higher as well. I don’t think you have it all wrong about Canada, but I you’re a long way from the truth about people, work, health care, and life in general up there.

    • G.E. Miller says:

      Deer jerky and whale blubber, that’s pretty good. Wish I had thought of that. The things you found offensive were tongue-in-cheek, if you couldn’t pick it up. I can’t tell if you’re trolling or just in a bad mood. I work in the Canadian market and spend a lot of time in Canada. Good folks, and nothing here was meant to be insulting. It’s commentary on how everyone is more stressed these days as employers expect more and more out of their employees. Work and personal finance go hand in hand.

      If you’re American, it’s a look into the closest industrialized country’s work standards and planting the seed on fighting for your rights. If you’re Canadian, it’s a warning shot of what’s to come if you don’t hold your ground and fight for your employee rights. And just because I made the statement that you don’t have to worry about health care does not mean that you do not have to worry about anything else. If you are the bearer of truth about Canada, please do share some insights with us. Trolls are not welcome.

      • Curtis says:

        I actually was in a bad mood. I grew up Canadian, but have lived in the States for almost 7 years now. I know the statistics may make it look one way, but like in this country, quite often reality is a little different. It also depends greatly on where you are right now…Alberta is and has been booming economically for quite a while due to the abundance of oil, and all of the work that trickles down from that. BC has struggled recently, mainly because their primary industry is forestry, and as we all know, American home building has slowed way down in recent years. Now the largest buyer of British Columbia lumber is China (I suppose so they can build more apartments, houses, and hotels that are going to stand empty for years). Ontario is the largest population-wise, and is the one province that mirrors the most of what the US is up to. A lot of business there is similar to the Ohio/Michigan area, with the auto industry being a large part of the economy.

        So….no trolling here….I read your blog regularly and enjoy the insightful information most often. You do know that the RCMP don’t wear those red uniforms daily though right?? That’s just ceremonial attire these days.

        • G.E. Miller says:

          Now that’s more like it… hugs, eh? The RCMP changed their attire? Huge disappointment! Some traditions are worth keeping.

          I mostly frequent Toronto/Vancouver, which always seem to be doing well. I know the Waterloo/Kitchener area is having a tech boom as well. It’s funny, Canada was somewhat immune to the great Recession originally – housing markets were doing fine – that probably has something to do with tighter bank regulations in Canada than the U.S.

          But now that Europe is slumping, Canada seems to be feeling it more. Hence the stress and feeling of being overworked hitting now, when it wasn’t there as much two years ago.

          • Curtis says:

            Someone has to break the stereotype that all Canadians are nice. That’s all I’m trying to do.

  • Amanda says:

    “Where else can you push Black Friday forward to Thanksgiving?” Well, I’m not sure any of those other countries really care that the pilgrims went to the new world and ate with the natives… And I believe they’d push it to Thanksgiving morning to get a computer for $150. (In the north, some of the best customers on black Friday travel across the border for great deals, especially with the value of the Loonie right now.)

  • Greg says:

    Curtis, the point of GE’s article was not to describe life in Canada, but rather to point out that although Canadians are overworked too, they could be thankful for all those required paid days off they get as compared to the US’s “0”.
    Thanks for sharing GE, and for providing some funny laughs along the way.

  • LaTisha @YoungAdultFinances says:

    It does seem like the average work week is increasing along with responsibilities per employee. I have a friend that took over responsibilities from two coworkers when they were laid off and she only recieved a modest increase in salary. Now that the economy is coming back, there doesn’t look to be any effort being made to relieve her of the extra work. Now that they know she can handle it, why bring on more labor costs?

    • G.E. Miller says:

      Yes, a number of companies look at any economic slowdown as a justified reason to lower labor costs, both in wage increase freezes, and letting people go. The latter results in a higher workload and more stress. At the same time, their profits are at an all time high. You do the math.


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