Imagine having an extra day every week to relax, enjoy yourself, and explore your area. It may seem like a dream, but it could actually become a reality for British Columbians one day. A candidate to lead the province’s Green Party is suggesting we could get a shorter workweek in B.C. She’s done her research and thinks it could make workers happier, but also more productive for their employers.
Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley, launched her campaign to become B.C.’s next Green Party leader last week, as reported by Global News.
As part of her pitch for the leadership, Furstenau said that she would want to “explore policies to improve work-life balance and health and wellbeing for workers, such as a shorter workweek for full-time workers.”
Furstenau, who plans to consult with businesses, workers, and other stakeholders on the proposals, said, “When people have more time to spend with their family and friends, they spend it making their communities happier, healthier, and more connected places to live."
In a press release explaining the policies she would support as leader, Furstenau mentioned studies in which other countries or companies had experimented with shorter workweeks.
“Finland is exploring the concept of a six-hour, four-day work week,” she said, linking to a recent Quartz article on the subject.
“Last year, Microsoft Japan tested a four day workweek and found that employees were not only happier, they were also more productive,” she added, citing a Guardian report.
The idea of a four-day workweek was also proposed by the Labour Party in the U.K. before it lost an election in December, as reported by the BBC.
Furstenau is the first candidate to declare their interest in replacing Andrew Weaver as leader of the B.C. Greens.
The party won three seats in the 2017 election and so, along with Weaver, who is now independent, hold the balance of power in B.C., as explained by Global News.
The idea of having a shorter workweek is not new in Canada.
In May 2018, Linda Nazareth, a senior fellow for Economics and Population Change at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, wrote an opinion piece on why Canada should consider shortening the workweek.
There have also been surveys of the public that have found support for three-day weekends.
And there is actually a whole political party, the Work Less Party, whose main aim is to reduce the length of the working week.