By Jeff Pelletier, Nunatsiaq News
It’s time for the Government of Nunavut (GN) to switch to a four-day work week, according to Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak Lightstone.
At the opening of the spring legislative session Wednesday, Lightstone delivered a nearly 10-minute speech calling on the GN to modernize its working model, and panning the current system as outdated.
The speech exceeded the allotted time for members’ statements, but his colleagues gave unanimous consent to continue.
“I believe that moving towards a four-day workweek and adapting remote and hybrid models of work will show that we are serious about being an employer of choice and will attract more professionals to Nunavut and increase the retention rate amongst our public servants,” Lightstone said.
“An extra day off would give employees more time to spend with their families and participate in community activities, and most importantly strengthen the cultural connections and create a greater sense of community.”
The GN has been facing a staffing shortage for some time.
According to Lightstone, there are nearly 2,000 jobs to be filled, translating into a 40 per cent vacancy rate.
Lightstone said research is proving the four-day workweek model is not only wanted, but is working.
“Once considered little more than a thought experiment, business leaders are now viewing reduced work hours as inevitability in the coming years and the trend will only intensify as the employment rates remain historically low and companies compete for skilled workers,” he said.
“Where it has been implemented, the four-day workweek has been shown to benefit employers, employees, clients, and most importantly society as a whole.”
Lightstone’s claim didn’t come out of nowhere.
Strong interest in shortened week: Survey
According to a study by the job recruitment company Talent.com and pollster YouGov, 93 per cent of Canadians are interested in switching to a four-day workweek.
In that same study, however, respondents shared some of their concerns about the model, such as the possibility of less pay, longer work days, increased stress, and the notion that it wouldn’t be compatible with their line of work.
According to the research non-profit 4 Day Week Global, studies from the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand have shown positive results such as high productivity and support for a shorter workweek, with decreases in burnout and resignations.
Lightstone brought the four-day workweek issue to question period as well on Wednesday.
Human Resources Minister Margaret Nakashuk responded to three of Lightstone’s questions on the matter, saying the GN currently does not have a plan to switch to a four-day workweek but it’s not in the realm of impossibility.
“We have not included it in our planning exercises, but we can include it in the discussion stages and to determine which would be the most convenient way,” she said.
“We are always open to hearing of resolutions geared towards improving our workplaces, and particularly, in placing more Inuit into the public services as we continue to look to recruit more Inuit, and we want to hear about potential improvements and we can look into that down the road.”
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