More Vacation = Job Creation?

April 1 st 1986

Canadian workers are by law guaranteed two weeks of paid vacation after one year of service (three weeks in Saskatchewan), and several jurisdictions require employers to grant three weeks after periods of service ranging from four to ten years. In most West European countries, the law provides for four or five weeks' paid vacations after just one year of employment. Europe has approximately the same number of statutory holidays as Canada, and the average work week is the same length or shorter.

Canadian unions have declared their intention to reduce the hours of work in order to create more jobs. According to Worklife magazine, an additional week of vacation for every worker in Canada could create 200,000 more jobs—although it is unlikely that so many would actually be created.

Worklife cites a survey conducted a few years ago which asked American workers to choose between five equally costly options: a pay raise of 2 per cent; 10 minutes off each work day; 5 additional days of paid vacation; or earlier retirement by 7 work days a year.

The extra vacation option was selected first by 55.6 per cent, while the pay raise was selected by only 14.3 per cent. Worklife remarks that Canadian workers would likely respond in a similar fashion, and concludes: "If unions should decide, therefore, to actively pursue the goal of reducing hours of work, longer vacations could be a popular as well as a socially useful way to do that" (Worklife, Vol. 4, No. 5, 1985).


Harry Antonides came to Canada in 1948, initially working as a farm hand and railway labourer. After over a decade working in a chemical plant in Sarnia, Ontario, Harry joined the newly forming Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) in 1962 as a field representative. By 1970 Harry became director of research and education. In 1974, he was a founding member of the Work Research Foundation (now Cardus) and publisher of their sole publication, Comment magazine. A prolific writer and dynamic speaker, Harry delivered lectures all over North America and published numerous articles, reviews, and essays. He is author of several books on Christianity, labour, and economics, including Multinationals and the Peacable Kingdom (1978) and Stones for Bread: The Social Gospel and its Contemporary Legacy (1985). Harry is retired and lives with his wife Janet in Willowdale, Ontario.