Fifth annual Vacation Deprivation survey reveals improving “condition” over last five years

-- One in three Canadians still suffer from vacation deprivation --

TORONTO, ON – May 18, 2007 – Five years of championing for Canadians' vacationing rights is starting to pay off! The fifth annual™/Ipsos-Reid Vacation Deprivation survey revealed that fewer Canadians are giving back days now compared to 2003 (33 per cent in 2003 vs. 21 per cent in 2007). However, there is room for improvement as Canadians still left two vacation days on the table in the past year, totalling 32 million untaken days and a staggering $5.4 billion (CDN) in wages handed back to employers. As well, 67 per cent of employed Canadians feel more, or just as, vacation-deprived as they did five years ago.

"Vacation deprivation levels over a five-year period clearly indicate that Canadians are starting to get the message and realize how important it is to take a vacation," says Beverly Beuermann-King, a stress and wellness expert. "However, many Canadians are still feeling vacation-deprived even though they are taking more vacation days – suggesting they are having difficulty coping with the speed of life, and simply need more time to re-energize."

Which province is the most vacation-deprived?
The survey revealed that British Columbia (25 per cent) and Alberta (24 per cent) have the most vacation-deprived workers in Canada, with one-quarter giving vacation days back to employers in 2007. Not surprisingly, Quebec, which emulates the European lifestyle of "work to live rather than live to work" is consistently the least deprived with just 15 per cent of workers giving days back.

Although vacation deprivation levels are still somewhat high, a five year analysis of vacation deprivation is showing a steady downward trend nationally, suggesting that Canadians are getting the message.

• British Columbia – 41 per cent vs. 25 per cent (2003 vs 2007)
• Alberta – 33 per cent vs. 24 per cent (2003 vs 2007)
• Manitoba/Saskatchewan – 35 per cent vs. 18 per cent
• Ontario – 32 per cent vs. 22 per cent
• Quebec – 30 per cent vs. 15 per cent
• Atlantic Canada – 35 per cent vs. 21 per cent

Generation gap is growing when it comes to vacation deprivation
Who tops the list of most vacation deprived? Young employed adults. Canadians aged 18 to 34 seem to be sacrificing valuable time off for career growth and are the demographic most likely to describe themselves as more vacation-deprived than they were five years ago; 36 per cent of young adults are more likely to feel vacation deprived compared to those over the age of 35 (23 per cent). A contributing factor could be that young adults are more likely to trade in vacation time for money (16 per cent vs. 10 per cent) than older age groups. The high levels of vacation deprivation among this demographic may also be related to their work environment. Young adults are more likely to feel guilty about taking time off (37 per cent vs. 24 per cent) and to say that their employer discourages them from using all of their vacation days (21 per cent vs. 13 per cent).

Are Canadians too connected?
Canadians can't seem to agree whether our 24/7 society makes it easier or harder to get away. When asked if technological advances such as Blackberries, PDAs, Pocket PCs, webmail or cell phones make it easier to take vacations, four in ten (41 per cent) say it makes no difference, 36 per cent say it makes it harder to get away and 23 per cent say it makes it easier. Younger Canadians find technological advances make it harder to get away (44 per cent of young adults think so vs. 35 per cent of middle-aged adults vs. 29 per cent of older adults), suggesting they are struggling to balance their PDA with personal time while on vacation.

Why aren't Canadians taking time off?
Canadians are having trouble kicking some bad habits. Thirty-four per cent still work more than 40 hours a week, 18 per cent have cancelled/postponed a vacation because of work and 18 per cent check their work messages while on vacation. Additionally, Canadians are seeing green and are increasingly trading in vacation days for money (12 per cent in 2007 compared to 8 per cent in 2006) which may be easy on the pocket but detrimental for overall health and wellness. Canadians also find it stressful to take vacations – 30 per cent have trouble coping with stress during the vacation cycle or feel guilty about taking time off (28 per cent) and 16 per cent say that their employer actually discourages them from taking all of their vacation time!

Canada compared to the rest of the world
Canada continues to be one of the most vacation-deprived countries globally with employed Canadians reporting an average of 18 days each of vacation in 2007 – only the US fares worse with an annual average of 14 vacation days. France continues its reign as the least vacation-deprived country with 36 days but has some competition from Spain, a new addition to this year's survey, who receives 30 vacation days annually. Germany and Great Britain rounded out the top with 26 and 24 vacation days, respectively.

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Survey Methodology
These are the findings of an online Ipsos Reid/ study conducted from April 5-10, 2007. For the survey, a representative, randomly selected sample of 2,222 employed Canadian adults was polled. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within ±2.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had this population been polled.* The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population. These data were weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age/sex composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to Census data.

*Questions 1-2 were asked April 20-23, 2007 among a sample of 2,822 employed Canadian adults, resulting in a margin of error of +/- 1.8%. Please visit for full tabular results.

Harris Interactive - International
Harris Interactive® fielded the online survey on behalf of between March 28 and April 12, 2007 among nationwide cross-sections of 4,123 adults aged 18+ in the United States, 2,144 adults aged 16+ in Great Britain, 2,138 adults aged 16+ in France, 2,121 adults aged 16+ in Germany, 1,968 adults aged 16+ in Spain. The European data were weighted to be representative of the total adult populations of each country on the basis of region, age, sex, education, income and propensity to be online. The U.S. data were weighted to be representative of the total U.S. adult population on the basis of region, age within gender, education, household income, race/ethnicity and propensity to be online.

In theory, with probability samples of this size, one can say with 95 percent certainty that the results for the U.S. sample have a sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points, and the results for the British, French, German, and Spanish samples have a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Sampling error for the following sub-sample results – U.S. employed adults (2,792), British employed adults (1,124), French employed adults (1,345), German employed adults (1,357), Spanish employed adults (1,403) – may be higher and would vary. However, that does not take other sources of error into account. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no theoretical sampling error can be calculated

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For more information or to schedule an interview with stress and wellness specialist, Beverly Beuermann-King, please contact:
Niki Hirschmann / Denise Attallah
416.979.1120 x 289 / 239 /