While news about employees performing more productively than ever as they work from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic is doing the rounds over the internet, new data released by Statistics Canada reveals that only four in 10 Canadians hold jobs that can be reasonably performed remotely.

The data compared telework capacity with actual telework data that had been reported early in the pandemic, and found that 39 per cent of workers were teleworking during the last full week of March. This means although only 39 per cent of Canadians are feasibly able to continue their jobs from home, pretty much every workforce that had that option took it. 

Here’s what the data says:

  • Finance, insurance, and educational service workers had the highest ability to work from home, at 85 per cent, followed by professional, scientific and technical services, at 84 per cent.
  • Food services, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting have “almost no telework capacity”.
  • Ontario has the highest percentage of workers in industries that can work from home.
  • Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, and The Prince Edward Island and the Prairies have lower telework capacities than the other provinces.
  • Women were more likely to be able to work from home than men, with a 46 per cent telework capacity compared to men’s 32 per cent.
  • People under the age of 25 and those with less education than a high school diploma had the lowest telework capacity, when looking at age and education as factors.

“Taken together, these findings suggest the Canadian labour market responded very quickly to the onset of the pandemic by increasing its prevalence of telework to the maximum capacity,” the report states.

The report raises the question of whether working from home will be the new normal even after the pandemic, as it is clear there is a higher capacity for remote working than was being taken advantage of before COVID-19.


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