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Over time work unable to make up for time lost in blackout

TORONTO, Ont. -- The transportation and warehousing sector lost 596,900 hours of work time in the second half of Au...

TORONTO, Ont. — The transportation and warehousing sector lost 596,900 hours of work time in the second half of August because of the Ontario-U.S. power outage and subsequent conservation period, according to a report released by Statistics Canada this morning.

The report estimates that 25% of employees in the sector could not work because of the blackout and subsequent conservation period. That resulted in an estimated total of 858,500 hours of work lost or 12.2 hours per employee. To make up for the time lost, an estimated 26,600 transportation and warehousing sector employees put in an extra 261,600 hours in over time or 9.8 hours per employee. Despite those efforts, however, the net effect was a loss of 596,900 hours.

The time lost in the transportation and warehousing sector is indicative of the impact the blackout had on business in Ontario and Quebec. Statistics Canada reports that an estimated 2.4 million workers in Ontario and Quebec lost 26.4 million hours of work time. This amounted to over one in three workers. At the same time, an estimated 713,000 people, or 11.0% of workers, put in a total of 7.5 million overtime hours. The net effect was a loss of 18.9 million hours.

There was a net loss in all industries except utilities, farm and municipal government. Workers in these three industries saw their hours rise as a result of the outage. In some industries, the net loss was very large.

A total of 3.6 million of the 18.9 million hours lost were at the federal or provincial level. About 6 in 10 federal and over 4 in 10 provincial government workers lost work hours in the second half of August because of the outage or conservation period. While some also worked overtime, the net effect was a loss of 16 hours per federal employee and 12 hours per provincial worker.

A significant share of factory workers also lost time in August. One-half of all people working in manufacturing were absent because of the blackout. Helping offset this, power outage-related overtime was relatively common in manufacturing, with 17.1% of workers putting in extra hours, but the net loss of hours was still 3.7 million hours.

In utilities, 122,000 hours were added to workers schedules as a result of the power outage. While 17.2% of utilities workers lost some work time, 18.9% worked some overtime. Furthermore, the overtime was long for utilities workers. The average overtime worker in utilities put in 19.4 hours in the second half of August, more than any other industry.

Overtime was also common in municipal government, where 16.6% of workers put in long hours because of the outage, second only to utilities. Included in municipal government are many essential services such as police, fire and ambulance.

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