CBC News: Nova Scotia considers shorter work week

Thursday, July 31, 2008

LSM CBCNews

Mr. Premier, take Friday off.

Nova Scotia is looking at a four-day work week for government employees as a way to save energy.

Energy Minister Richard Hurlburt told reporters Thursday he pitched the idea at a brainstorming session at Conserve Nova Scotia.

"Maybe there would be less vehicles on the highways, maybe less power being used in office buildings," he said, "but there are a lot of cons to it at the first cut and that’s why we need an analysis."

Hurlburt didn’t give any details about how it would work, which government employees would be included, or how much the province could save in energy costs.

There is no plan in place at this point, he insisted.

"You just can’t say we’re going to start this tomorrow," he said. "There’s private industries that you’ve got to talk to, private businesses, unions."

Hurlburt said his department is preparing a report and a shorter work week is just one of the energy-conserving options under consideration.

"We have very, very aggressive targets to cut our greenhouse gas emissions, and we’re going to meet those targets," he said. "We’re going to look at all options."

The province has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from today’s levels by 26 per cent by 2020.

Hurlburt said his energy officials will be watching what happens in Utah, which has brought in a shorter work week for a year-long trial run.

State employees are working four, 10-hour days and getting every Friday off. Their pay remains the same. Police, court and prison workers are excluded.

State officials expect to save about $3 million a year by turning off the power and heat every Friday in one-third of government buildings, as well as saving on gas for government vehicles.

In Canada, some companies, such as LSM insurance in Markham, Ont., have decided to offer employees a condensed work week to reduce commuting costs as gas prices soar.

Read the original CBC article on LSM

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