Canadians are so time-crunched that 62 per cent think life is passing them by, new study finds.


With the clocks about to fall back and give busy Canadians the rare luxury of an extra hour, people across the country will be deciding how they will spend their precious gift of time.

A Standard Life Value of an Hour Survey conducted for Big Brothers Big Sisters shows how busy Canadians actually are and what they would do if they had an extra hour each week. Consider how your time preferences compare.

Standard Life Value of an Hour Survey Findings:

  • One in five Canadians (15 per cent) are so time deprived they would use their extra hour to sleep
  • One in three (33 per cent) would strengthen personal relationships by spending time with family and friends
  • Nearly two in ten (17 per cent) would focus on their health by exercising
  • More than one in ten (13 per cent) would finish household errands
  • One in ten (11 per cent) would pursue personal interests and hobbies
  • Less than one in ten (six per cent) would  devote an extra hour to community service
  • Only four per cent  would spend their extra hour working

“The study shows how badly time-stressed Canadians need to make more time for their needs,” says Bruce MacDonald, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada. “The fact that people have to forgo something as personally enriching as family time or volunteering shows we often pay too high a price for the hectic pace of our lives. Imagine what would happen if everyone could free up even a little time each week to help others. Communities and individuals would be transformed for the better.

The evidence for time as a barrier to volunteering is compelling. The Standard Life survey found that 66 per cent of Canadians would most likely volunteer if their personal schedule was less hectic. Almost two thirds (65 per cent) indicated they were likely to volunteer provided only a small time commitment was required each week. Almost half (45 per cent) reported that lack of time was the biggest barrier stopping them from working in their communities.

Canadians also know that their busy schedules exact a high toll on their quality of life. Nearly two thirds (62 per cent) agreed that they are so busy that they sometimes think life is passing them by.

“This survey sends a clear message to Canadian charities starved for volunteers: there’s a huge pool of potential volunteers out there provided volunteer opportunities are tailored to busy schedules,” says MacDonald. “At Big Brothers Big Sisters, for example, we have introduced a range of popular volunteer opportunities, such as in-school mentoring, that involve only one hour a week.”

Few organizations understand the power that volunteering has in bringing people on a path to personal satisfaction and happiness better than Standard Life. For the past four years, the company has focused much of its community support on inspiring Canadians to become youth mentors through Big Brothers Big Sisters.

When it comes to the personal rewards of volunteering, Canadians get it. Among those polled who currently volunteer, virtually all (99 per cent) rated the experience as either very satisfying (70 per cent) or somewhat satisfying (29 per cent).

“When individuals give of their time to the community, everybody wins. The charities they support benefit. Studies show that people who volunteer are healthier and happier and, as employees, they’re more engaged and more receptive to learning new skills,” says Charles  Guay, president and CEO of Standard Life in Canada. “A single hour can change many lives. We hope these survey findings will inspire Canadians to make time to volunteer.”



  • Like other Canadians, Albertans are caught in the time-crunch. Here’s how Albertans say they would use an extra hour each week if they had one:
  • 13 per cent are so time deprived they would use their extra hour to sleep, compares to 15 per cent nationally.
  • Four in ten Albertans (40 per cent) would strengthen relationships by spending time with family and friends, compares to 33 per cent nationally.
  • 13 per cent of Albertans would focus on their health by exercising, compares to 17 per cent nationally.
  • Finishing up household errands was the selection of 17 per cent of Albertans, compares to 13 per cent nationally.
  • Just over one in ten (13 per cent) would pursue personal interests and hobbies, compares to 11 per cent nationally.
  • Sadly, only four per cent would devote their extra hour to community service, compares with six per cent nationally.
  • No Albertans elected to spend their extra hour working, compares to four per cent nationally. (The lowest in Canada)


The survey was conducted by Ipsos Reid from September 19 to 24,2013. A sample of 1,011 Canadian adults from Ipsos’ online panel was interviewed. Weighing was employed to ensure the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 3.5 percentage points had all Canadians been polled.


About Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada
For one hundred years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been making a positive difference in the lives of Canada’s youth by developing and implementing a wide range of mentoring programs. BBBS volunteer mentors teach by example the importance of giving back, of staying in school, and of respecting family, peers and community.

BBBS provides quality mentoring services for more than 40,000 children and teenagers. The community-based youth mentoring organization currently has over 25,000 volunteer mentors working at 118 agencies that serve children in over 1,000 communities across the country. Visit


About Standard Life

Standard Life provides long-term savings, investment and insurance solutions to more than 1.4 million Canadians, including group retirement and insurance plan members.

Standard Life in Canada has been doing business for 180 years and has approximately 2,000 employees. It is the largest operation outside of the United Kingdom of Standard Life plc, its parent company headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Standard Life has a long-standing commitment to the communities in which it conducts business. It gives back through corporate donations and sponsorships, and its internationally-recognized employee community engagement program which encourages Standard Life employees to volunteer with and provide financial assistance to organizations they personally support.

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