47% of Canadian workers say their mental health is less than good.

Mental health distress from work regularly affects 6.5 million Canadian workers

OTTAWA -- Inflexible, unsupportive workplaces, work without much meaning, and jobs that don’t pay the bills are key factors causing regular mental distress to about 6.5 million Canadian workers, according to a poll commissioned by the Douglas Caldwell Layton Foundation.

Last month, the Douglas Coldwell Layton Foundation commissioned Abacus Data to conduct a national survey of 2,000 working Canadians to explore the impact that working conditions and personal finances have on mental health. The survey explored how Canadians feel about their own mental health, what workplace factors most impact self-assessed mental health, and the role unions play in mitigating negative workplace experiences.

Overall, 47 per cent of working Canadians, representing about 10 million people, report their mental health is less than good.

The poll of 2,000 working Canadians, conducted by Abacus Research last month, found nearly all Canadian workers surveyed have experienced mental distress due to work. Among those experiencing distress “occasionally”: 

  • 38% say their work leaves them feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge
  • 35% say they can’t stop worrying about work
  • 32% say they feel down, depressed, or hopeless about work
  • 29% say work makes them angry with co-workers or others. 

More concerning, 33 per cent of respondents, or about 6.5 million working Canadians, say on a regular basis they experience one or more of these forms of distress. Among all workers, 43 per cent said the problem is growing worse. Only 21 per cent said things are getting better.

The survey tested a wide range of workplace factors possibly causing distress, including difficult physical working conditions, poor equipment and demanding work. The factors most closely linked to mental health distress from work were:

  • workplaces with inflexible schedules or unsupportive of workers
  • work that doesn’t provide much meaning
  • a job that leaves them in financial insecurity.

Mental health distress from work is particularly intense among office workers. Those working with patients, students, clients or customers in front line jobs and those in on-site jobs, such as construction or manufacturing, were less likely to experience regular mental health distress from work.

“Our research shows millions of workers are struggling with their mental health today and it’s getting worse. That’s deeply concerning.'' said Josh Bizjak, Executive Director of the Douglas Caldwell Layton Foundation. “It’s simply not enough to talk about mental health, we must identify sources and find solutions to this mounting social and economic crisis - employers and policy makers need to take responsibility and play an active role.”

Click here to read the full report from the first phase of our original research on Mental Health and Wellness in the Workplace.

Latest posts

NEW: BC Voter Data by Abacus Data Revealed at DCLF Event

In advance of the event “Trends in Social Democracy” a survey was conducted to test the feelings of BC Voters on issues of concern and solutions offered by Social Democracy as it relates to the upcoming provincial election.

From May 6 to 9, 2024, Abacus Data conducted a survey of 1,000 eligible voters in British Columbia exploring their views on provincial politics and government. 

These are the findings:

Celebrate Women Today and Everyday

Blog Post 


Today is International Women’s Day; a day which I am truly thankful for all the women who have worked tirelessly, past and present, towards a more equitable world where all voices are heard. I take this day to reflect on the women that came before me and the work that we have to continue to do in their honour.

February Newsletter: Gala Highlight Video + Lecture Details and Research

Blog Post 


As promised we’ve got lots of news to share with you this month. The Douglas Coldwell Layton Foundation had a banner year in 2023. We produced more special events, original content, research projects, and educational materials than ever before!

This year we’re building from that success. You’ll see us in more places with more exciting programs for you to participate in throughout the year. All of this growth is thanks to our supporters like you.

We hope you enjoy our update this month.

Take action

Dave Barrett Lecture Video
50th Anniversary Dinner Photos
The Alexa McDonough Lecture
The David Lewis Lecture
Audrey McLaughlin Interview
BC Premier John Horgan's Keynote
50th Anniversary Dinner Highlights
2024 Jack Layton Lecture
2nd Annual Mouseland Gala
Alexa McDonough Womens’ Leadership Centre
Become a Member
Make a Donation
Lecture Series
Help Fund Vital Research

Connect with us