Research by the Canadian Index of Wellbeing suggests Canadians are increasingly sacrificing satisfying leisure time to attend to the pressing demands of work, childcare and looking after dependent seniors. A report issued by the Index on Tuesday says there is a need to strike a better balance.
Among its conclusions, it says:
• Working in the labour force is strongly and positively associated with individual and family wellbeing. But there is compelling evidence that excessive time spent in paid labour leads to poorer health. Long hours have a significantly negative impact on life satisfaction and time-related stress, which in turn have a negative effect on wellbeing.
• Non-standard work hours are associated with health problems, higher levels of stress, psychological distress, greater relationship conflicts for dual-income couples, less time spent with children and lower life satisfaction.
• Unpaid caregivers for adult family members are more likely to report poor health, depression and high-risk health behaviours. They have less time for leisure activities, miss more days of work, take more personal days, and retire earlier to provide care.
• Long commuting hours are associated with sickness and absences, sleep problems and elevated risk factors for heart disease. Long commutes also disrupt family life by reducing time together.
• People experiencing time pressure have lower levels of satisfaction, higher levels of stress, lower self-reported physical and emotional wellbeing, and greater insomnia. Work-life conflicts can lead to higher levels of anxiety and depression; sleep disturbances and a host of other ailments.
This report is one in a series of eight that will comprise the Canadian Index of Wellbeing, some of which have yet to be released. Others have looked at living standards, healthy populations, community vitality, and democratic engagement. Roy Romanow, the chairman of the advisory board of the Index, says he hopes they will, cumulatively, provide a complementary measure to the GDP to indicate the wellbeing of Canadian citizens.