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Long-distance telework

February 23, 2022, 2:00 p.m. (EST)
From left to right: A woman looking at a laptop screen, a woman writing on a notepad in front of a laptop, and a man sitting at a desk holding a coffee mug with a child in his lap.

At the beginning of 2020, the idea that many Canadians might work from home for an employer located in a different province appeared far-fetched.

This is no longer the case.

As the COVID-19 pandemic triggered an unprecedented social experiment on telework in Canada and many industrialized countries, the possibility of long-distance telework—working from home for businesses located far away—has become real for many employers and employees.

In a context of record-high job vacancies, long-distance telework may allow firms to recruit from a larger pool of applicants and allow workers to apply to a broader set of jobs than had been possible until recently. The net impact of these two factors on Canadians’ wages remains to be seen.

What is clear is that businesses are starting to adapt to the new reality.

In 2016, 13,000 Canadians worked from home for businesses located in another province or territory. But when interviewed during the fourth quarter of 2021, Canadian employers expected about 113,000 of their employees to telework exclusively from another province or territory during the following three months. While this number represents a small share of their entire workforce (0.9%), it highlights a shift towards more flexible work arrangements.

This change emerges clearly in some high-tech industries: during the fourth quarter of 2021, employers in telecommunications and in data processing, hosting and related services expected about 10% of their workforce to telework exclusively from another province or territory over the following three months.

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