A four-day work week for Canada?

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Canadians support a four-day work week, but is this possible for the country?

A four-day work week could be a possibility for Canada. Many Canadians already support the idea, as shown by a recent Anguis Reid poll. More than half of respondents said that a four day work week would be beneficial for them and the country in general. Before, in a previous 2018 poll, 47 per cent of respondents favoured a shorter work week. This 6 point increase suggests Canadians are eyeing changes in their work-life balance.

Nowadays we are very much brought to think a 40-hour week should be the norm everywhere. However, the first to propose, promote and adopt the 40-hour work week was American industrialist Henry Ford. Ford decided to scale down the previous 48-hour work week to a 40-hour work week, believing it would increase productivity. As of today, many are starting to think the same applies to a 30-hour work week.

Other countries such as New Zealand and Sweden have already started entertaining the matter. In a recent Facebook live video, PM Jacinda Ardern highlighted the importance of tourism for her country. She suggests that a shorter work week would allow New Zealanders to travel freely within their country. This would both boost the national economy and productivity. Yet, as Ardern states, ‘ultimately it really sits between employers and employees’.

Now PM Justin Trudeau in Canada has to face the same questions. Trudeau seems open to such ideas, stating that ‘there are lots of people thinking creatively about what the post-COVID world could look like’. Still, his administration top priority remains economic recovery. Ultimately, such a change would rest on the will of public opinion. A strong popular support could shift the burden of responsibility away from politics. But it might take time for Canadians to champion the idea proactively.