Vacation Deprivation Continues but Canadians Still Value Vacations in Today’s Economy, Survey Finds

-- Two in five working Canadians feel they need more vacation time --

TORONTO, ON – May 13, 2009 - Today, announced the results of its seventh annual Vacation DeprivationTM survey conducted by Harris/Decima revealing that almost one quarter (24 per cent) of employed Canadians report not taking all of their vacation days. Despite receiving an average of 18.7 vacation days, this year Canadians will give back an average of 2.03 days of unused vacation time to their employers. This translates into 34 million untaken days in Canada overall and about $6.03 billion (CDN) in wages handed back to employers.

The survey also revealed that Canadians are feeling even more vacation deprived this year compared to last, with 42 per cent of employed Canadians saying that they are very or somewhat vacation deprived, up from 33 per cent in 2008.

“The stress associated with the current economy and impact on the workplace makes the need for time away from work even more important,” said Beverly Beuermann-King, stress and wellness expert. “Vacation Deprivation is a condition that continues to affect Canadians across the country and it’s essential for Canadians to invest in their health by taking a break and getting away.”

Workplace Stress Mounting in Today’s Economy
Because of the current economic climate, many Canadians (43 per cent) feel it is important to put their money into savings. However, Canadians continue to see the value in vacations with 84 per cent still planning on travelling this year for vacation purposes. And even one-in-five (18 per cent) Canadians feel that they need a vacation now more than ever because of the stress from the current economy.

However, the survey also revealed some common barriers to taking a vacation. According to the survey, many Canadians work more than 40 hours per week (37 per cent) with 13 per cent saying that their work is their life and are too busy to get away. And taking the term ‘guilt trip’ almost literally, one-third (30 per cent) of employed Canadians say they feel guilty about taking time off work. In fact, 17 per cent of Canadians attributed their feelings of guilt around taking a vacation to the current economy. All those guilty feelings can lead to the Vacation Deprivation condition.

But even when they do manage to get away, it seems some Canadians may have trouble escaping their workplace woes as the survey found that nearly one-third of Canadians (32 per cent) admitted they have trouble coping with stress from work during the vacation cycle. However, regardless of potential workplace worries, Canadians recognize the inherent benefits vacations have on their personal well-being and will continue to get away this year. Many Canadians (41 per cent) say they return from vacations feeling better about their jobs and feeling more productive, and more than half (54 per cent) feel rejuvenated and reconnected to their personal life after taking vacations.

Additional Findings around Canadian Vacation Habits

  • For me or not for me?Canadians have taken, or plan to take, an average of 8.61 of their vacation days for obligations including weddings, family events/obligations, religious observances, medical appointments and more. With Canadians using a chunk of their vacation days for obligations, there is opportunity to take advantage of ‘power weekends’ – currently only one-in-ten (7 per cent) plan on using the Friday and Monday as designated days off for a 4-day getaway. Another 7 per cent plan to take a day off from time to time instead of taking a longer break
  • Business, pleasure or both?Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of employed Canadians travel for business. Of these, almost half (45 per cent) have combined business with pleasure – tacking on extra days to work trips to explore their destinations.
  • Time off – but for how long?31 per cent of employed Canadians plan to take the traditional full week off and spread out the remaining days (up from 29 per cent in 2008), while 39 per cent take two full weeks of vacation (up from 37 per cent in 2008).
  • Under the weather- On top of their vacation days, employed Canadians take an average of 2.78 sick days per year. Women take more sick days than men (3.17 days vs. 2.42 days). Older Canadians (55+) take fewer sick days than those 54 and under (1.63 days vs. 3.06 days).
  • Planes, trains or automobiles?– Among all Canadians, 65 per cent plan to travel by car, 51 per cent plan to travel by plane and only 9 per cent plan to travel by train.
  • Battle of the sexes– Men report receiving more vacation days than women (20.4 days vs. 16.86 days). Since men are given more vacation days, they are able to take more – men are taking an average of 18.28 vacation days each year, while women are taking 14.93 days.

Which Province is the Most Vacation Deprived?
The survey revealed that Ontarians (47 per cent) are the most likely to identify themselves as vacation deprived, followed by those living in Manitoba and Saskatchewan (45 per cent), Atlantic Canadians (43 per cent), British Columbians (38 per cent), Quebecers (38 per cent) and Albertans (35 per cent). Residents of Alberta give back an average of 2.81 days, followed by residents of Manitoba and Saskatchewan (2.80), Atlantic Canadians (2.21), British Columbians (2.04), Ontarians (1.99) and Quebecers (1.39).

Make Vacation Deprivation Vanish!
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Survey Methodology*
Harris/Decima completed 2,019 online surveys among a random sample of Harris/Decima panel members aged 18 and older, among which 1,330 are employed. The study was conducted between March 24th to March 30th, 2009.
This was a standard panel survey among a random sample of Harris/Decima’s Canadian panel members. In a fashion similar to a telephone study, email addresses from their panel were pulled at random, according to population and gender specifications, in order to make the study representative of the Canadian population by region and gender. When contacted to solicit participation, participants had no prior knowledge of the subject matter of the study. Harris/Decima controls access to the study through passwords to ensure that respondents can participate only one time. Subsequent to completion of the study, the data was weighted for region, age, gender, and propensity to be online.


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For more information or to schedule an interview with stress and wellness specialist, Beverly Beuermann-King, please contact:
Melissa Legaspi / Stephanie Marton
416.979.1120 x 272 / 314 /

*Comparison of the some of the findings to previous years should be interpreted with caution because of the change in survey supplier. However, every effort has been made to maintain the same methodology and market research standards.