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A Toronto bank employee works from home on Oct. 8, 2010. (SARAH DEA/Sarah Dea for The Globe and Mail)
A Toronto bank employee works from home on Oct. 8, 2010. (SARAH DEA/Sarah Dea for The Globe and Mail)

Liberal MP wants you to stay home and work Add to ...

From Parliament Hill, Mike Savage delivers this message: Do not come to work.

He laughs when the contradiction is pointed out to him. He's not at his home in Nova Scotia and he's working. Still, the Liberal human resources critic is trying to create some buzz around a campaign by Workopolis, the online job board, to encourage Canadians to work from home.

He is making a statement Wednesday in the House of Commons calling for a National Work from Home Day.

Working from home, Mr. Savage argues, would enhance the country's productivity, improve work-life balance and, most significantly, help the environment. People would simply not be in their cars. The long commute would become a thing of the past and that extra time would free up people to work more.

"If one million Canadians were to work at home one day a week Canada would save some 250 million kilograms of CO2 emissions," he says.

He also believes it would allow disabled Canadians more employment choices - again, increasing productivity.

This is not Liberal policy. Rather, it is something that as the opposition critic Mr. Savage is interested in, especially after seeing more than 50,000 people join a Facebook site advocating a National Work at Home Day.

"I think a lot of people are interested in this. It makes sense on a lot of levels," the MP says.

And Mr. Savage recognizes that working from home is not for everyone - police officers or firefighters, for example.

But 20 years ago, he argues, Canadians would never have imagined that doctors and nurses could work remotely through technology.

"This is the new reality of work, technology and Skyping and teleconferencing and a whole bunch of things make it easier for people to work in remote locations, specifically their homes," he says. "This has been a growing trend."

In fact, his efforts and the Workopolis campaign are following Britain, where since 2005 there has been a Work Wise Week during which people work from home on a designated day.

"We need to better educate Canadians but we also need to provide work situations that work for them as well as for employers," Mr. Savage says.

He jokes that a lot of Canadians might support MPs staying at home to work "if it meant that they didn't have to watch Question Period every day."

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