A new study from the Fraser Institute says the work week in Alberta is the longest in the country.
Workers in Alberta work an average of 35.1 hours per week, followed by people in Saskatchewan working 34.5 hours and those in Newfoundland doing 34.2.
Philip Cross, the author of the study, says this is because the province doesn’t have enough workers.
“Unlike the rest of the country, they have scoured the streets for young people,” he said. “Youth unemployment in Alberta is below four per cent. That compares to 16 per cent here in Ontario.”
The study says employers are holding onto their older staff, asking them to delay retirement because they don’t have skilled workers to replace them. Cross adds the resource and construction sectors in particular have many older workers.
“Until they’re trained and up and ready to do the job, employers are going to have to keep their older workers on the job and that seems to be what we are seeing,” Cross said.
The Fraser Institute says the province needs better training programs and a way to attract more young people to move from other provinces.
“At some point we are going to have to get people from the outside,” Cross said. “If it’s not going to be immigrants through the temporary foreign worker program, then it’s going to have to be Canadians moving. It’s going to have to be those young people in Ontario who don’t have jobs.”
However, the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) doesn’t agree that longer work hours are due to a labour shortage.
“We need to ask the questions of why we are having this shift and why we are making our work life more important than our home life,” said Siobhan Vipond, secretary treasurer for the AFL.
“Especially if the reasons for that are because we are not making enough money, or our student debt is too much or our housing costs are too high.”