The HRPA fully supports the Ontario government’s move to introduce right-to-disconnect policies.

Announced on Monday, the Working for Workers Act, 2021 would require large employers to implement disconnecting-from-work policies, which could include expectations around employees’ response times for emails and encourage them to turn on out-of-office notifications when they’re off the clock.

Labour Minister Monte McNaughton believes the bill, if passed, could help address burnout and promote healthy work-life balance. “COVID-19 has changed the way we work,” says McNaughton. “We must act swiftly and decisively to put workers in the driver’s seat and begin rebalancing the scales.”

The alarming stats on job burnout

Burnout is not a new issue for HR professionals and employers.

In 2019, the World Health Organization identified burnout as an “occupational phenomena,” which made it clear that burnout isn’t just a personal problem — it’s an organizational issue that’s only worsened during the pandemic.

“Since COVID-19 hit, we’ve seen such a catastrophic impact on our workforce,” said Jennifer Moss, international public-speaker and workplace expert, during her keynote on burnout at the HRPA 2021 Summer Conference. “The number of people engaged or happy at work has decreased significantly across the globe and including Canada. We [as a society] are burning out.”

You only have to look at “The Great Resignation” to understand that burnout is happening on a scale we’ve never seen before.

And it’s not a short-term trend. Several studies show that mental exhaustion and chronic stress remain an issue for both employees and employers:

  • 47% of Canadians feel exhausted during a typical workday compared to 39% of the national average. Stress levels are also higher than the global average with 50% of Canadians feeling stressed according to Microsoft’s annual Work Trend Index.
  • An Ontario parent survey conducted by researchers at McMaster University and the Offord Centre for Child Studies, in 2020, found that almost 60% of respondents – nearly all women – reported symptoms that matched criteria for depression during the pandemic. 
  • In the 2021 Forward Together report (a study by Sage that uncovered the impact of burnout on Canadian businesses), 1 in 3 Canadian workers believe burnout will negatively impact their ability to do their job.
  • According to Statistics Canada, a lack of work-life balance cost Canadian businesses a combined 20 billion dollars a year in health claims, lost productivity and absenteeism. Which is why it’s no surprise that in the same 2021 report by Sage, 42% of Canadian business leaders believe dampened employee morale and potential increase of burnout will negatively impact their revenues for the remainder of 2021.
  • 64% of employers expect employee turnover rates to remain elevated or increased according to researchers at

The lines between work-life and home-life have been blurred, if not erased completely, for countless Canadian workers since the start of the pandemic.

In an “always-on, work-on-demand” culture, HRPA is pleased that the provincial government has taken steps to redraw the lines between work and home to protect employee well-being and give workers the chance to show up as their best selves in and outside of the workplace.

Click here to read the Ministry’s full announcement, which includes other key legislative changes for employees.

Related Resources:

Interested in learning more about supporting employee well-being through workplace policies? The conversation continues at the HRPA 2021 Fall Conference, November 16-18, 2021. Learn more here.

Other HRPA articles on burnout:
The Great Resignation or The Great Retention?
Mental Health in the Workplace
Preparing for a Post-Pandemic Workforce