When it comes to missing work, Quebecers take the most days off across the country, according to a study released by Statistics Canada this week.
The numbers show that full-time workers in Quebec were absent for an average of 12 days due to illness, familial or personal reasons in 2016, a stark contrast to the national average of 9.5 days.
For experts like McGill University professor Dr. Charles Sounan, who is a medical scientist and chief of the MUHC's research and wellness division, the findings are troubling and need to be addressed immediately.
"It's like a wakeup call," said Sounan. "It tells us we don't do enough in terms of promoting wellness at work and promoting global health for our employees."
In other parts of the country, worker absenteeism isn't nearly as high. Full-time workers in Ontario, for example, missed 8.5 days of work last year.
Women take more days off
Absenteeism due to illness and personal reasons also been steadily on the rise among Quebecers for more than a decade, according to Statistics Canada.
In 2000, full-time workers missed 8.8 days of work compared to the current average of 12.
There is also a difference between men and women when it comes to missing work. Women in Quebec took an average of 14 days off in 2016, while men were absent for 10 days.
'We need to act'
The upward trend in worker absenteeism will continue if changes aren't put in place, said Sounan.
"We need to act, we need to do something now — if not, we're going to start losing our employees and that's not what we want to have," he said.
In order to have better attendance rates, Sounan said organizations and employers need to realize that workers are their most valuable asset and need to be treated as such.
"If we take care of them, then we take care of our organization and then the organization will be even more productive," he said.
Investing in wellness activities on the job is a start, he added. Employers should be asking workers what they need and bring that to the work place.
"We need to start somewhere so we need to, for example, support our employees in terms of nutritional advice, well being, physical activities — all these kinds of things for them to be in a good atmosphere at work," he said.
How the provinces stack up
Here is how worker absenteeism in 2016 breaks down by province:
- Quebec: 11.9 days
- Newfoundland and Labrador: 9.7 days
- Prince Edward Island: 10.5 days
- Nova Scotia: 10.5 days
- New Brunswick: 10.5 days
- Ontario: 8.5 days
- Manitoba: 10.4 days
- Saskatchewan: 10.6 days
- Alberta: 7.5 days
- British Columbia: 9.4 days