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CUPE commissioned EKOS to conduct a telephone poll of 1213 Canadians workers aged 18 and over. Sample size yields a maximum error estimate of 3.0 per cent, 19 times out of 20. The poll was conducted between January 12 and January 29, 2001.

Key findings


  • More than half (52 per cent) of public sector workers identify heavy workload as a significant problem.
  • Those with the heaviest workload report that the problem has grown worse in the last two years. Seventy three per cent report increased workload.
  • Workers are looking to their union to make workload a top priority. In the case of health care, social services and education 83 per cent of respondents said they were looking to their union to take strong action.
  • Public sector workers work more overtime than workers in the private sector, averaging 5.2 hours a week in the public sector and 2.8 hours in the private sector.
  • For workers in health care and social services sectors, increased workload arises primarily from increased responsibilities and increased demand for services.
  • Technology has contributed most to increased workload in the government and education sectors.
  • Reductions in staff have contributed to increased workload in the public sector more than private sector (54 per cent vs 38 per cent)
  • Heavy workload has a serious impact on job satisfaction and the confidence of workers that they can do good quality work in a timely manner.
  • Education workers (78 per cent), followed by health and social services workers (69 per cent), are most concerned about the impact of workload pressures on their physical health.
  • Stress arising from workload has again been identified as a major concern in the education (74 per cent) and the health and social services sectors (72 per cent).
  • For families with children, workload pressures have a significant impact on child care. Among women with children, 69 per cent indicated workload had a heavy impact.
  • Among health, social services and education workers, increasing staffing levels is seen as the main answer to increased workloads.
  • Workers believe they should be paid more in light of heavy workloads.
  • Younger Canadians see overtime pay as an appropriate response to workload while older workers are more wary of this response.
  • Families with children see improved child care and elder care as an important aid in handling workload pressures.
  • Ontario workers are more concerned about the impact of workload on child care and family responsibility than the national average (56 per cent ranked it very important as compared to 42 per cent nationally). Among visible minority respondents, concern was particularly high.
  • Ontario respondents were most likely to see more efficient organization of work as an effective response to workload (73 per cent as compared to 60 per cent nationally).
  • Disabled respondents were more likely to express concern that their work did not provide them with sufficient flexibility to balance their personal and work needs and that they lacked sufficient control over their work.
  • A significant portion of part-time workers are looking to work more hours.