Wednesday, April 30, 2014


I didn't really need Stats Canada to tell me about this but it was still interesting to see actual numbers.  Yes, on average, Albertans work more hours per week than anywhere else in Canada.  What did surprise me was the figure of 32.1 hours per week as I thought it would be higher.    No doubt this is because living where I do, long hours by Canadian standards are just par for the course.   It would be interesting to see what the Alberta average is with Fort McMurray taken out of the equation.

I recall one of my foremen telling me just a few weeks back about a fellow he knew who worked a 24 days on/4 days off schedule for an entire year.  Apparently, the guy was investigated by Canada Revenue since some bean counter couldn't believe it was possible to work THAT many hours.  On top of this, he was also putting in overtime.  I couldn't imagine working that many hours myself though I've met a few people that have work 24 and 4 for short periods at a time.  At my peak a couple years ago, I was putting in 84 hours a week.  This number doesn't include the time it took me to get from my bus stop to work.  That was back before a couple of much-needed overpasses were constructed.  Traffic was hellish at times to put it nicely and travel alone would typically add another 2 hours to my already long day.  At the time, I joked that my cat actually owned the house and just let me sleep there during those few hours it seemed that I wasn't either on a bus, waiting for a bus or at work.  Thankfully, I only worked those insane hours for a month before reverting to my average of 55 hours a week.  Currently, I'm averaging 42 hours per week...much easier on the body but again, still above the provincial average.

I bring this all up not to brag about being some sort of super-human but rather to highlight the importance of striking a balance between work and leisure time.  This is, of course, important regardless of where you work but I think it is especially important here.  I'll admit this wasn't always easy for me but I have gotten much better at it.  I count myself lucky as, unlike many, I have a house in town and don't live in camp.  I have a bit of military background so I know I can deal with living in a more institutional-type environment with large groups of people and cafeteria-style food.  I could deal with it but I figure, why put myself through it if I don't have to?  I'm also fortunate in that my hobbies (other than my interest in wine) don't cost a lot of money and can be done pretty much anywhere.

It bears remembering that, although there are many notions out there about this city being a place where  people come and make their riches, that there are often long hours involved as well.  I've heard the line many times too about how if you're not happy with the long hours than just move.  These people then become strangely silent on how exactly then you build a healthier, sustainable community if everyone just up and leaves but I digress.

I know I won't be in Fort McMurray forever.  I'm open and honest about that.   I try to see the good and the bad, which can be a struggle.  There are many things I choose not to write about because I am wary about feeding online trolls and stereotypes.  Long work hours here, though, are just part of the package.  It is what it is.  How you deal with it and strike a balance is the important part.  I don't always have control over my work hours (ok, I very rarely do) but how I choose to deal with it and find that balance is completely up to me.

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