We always knew we were a tough bunch but this borders on sadistic. Canadians are taking fewer and fewer vacation days, according to the fourth annual Expedia.ca Ipsos/ Reid Vacation Deprivation survey.

Down three from 2005, Canadians now receive a total of 19 vacation days a year, placing us third in the world of no fun.

Happy to concede this victory, Canada follows the U.S with its measly 14 vacation days a year. Australia comes in at a close second with 17.

The worst part is we’re giving it away. As if 19 days was just too lavish, Canadians are forfeiting an additional two days a year. In total, 32 million days are not taken resulting in a communal $5.1 billion hand back to employers.

The most generous portion comes from medical professionals and caregivers.

Topping the charts, 48 per cent of doctors and nurses are vacation deprived.

Similarly, 46 per cent of caregivers, including social workers and long-term care workers, are not getting some much needed time off.

On average, one-quarter of Canadians are not using all of their vacation days, with one in 10 not using any. The primary reason for sacrificing vacation time — lack of planning. Eleven per cent of Canadians listed “not scheduling in advance” as the culprit. Nine per cent were just “too busy,” and eight per cent put a price tag on their freedom and “took cash in lieu of days.”

Ironically, this comes at a time when vacation days are becoming increasingly prized. The same survey found 22 per cent of employees would take a pay cut for more vacation time while 40 per cent would sacrifice a better workspace.

But even when we get it, most of us can’t enjoy it. Two in 10 Canadians have postponed vacation plans because of work. Of those that actually peel themselves away, 18 per cent still check their work messages.

Depending on your point of view a lesson can be learned from the French. Of the countries surveyed, France comes out on top (or bottom) in terms of vacation days. With 39 vacation days a year, they more than double their English speaking counterparts.

Similarly, Quebecers top the charts here in Canada. Quebecers double the rest of the country in extended vacations and sick days. Vive le Française!

summer vacation

With summer here, many Canadians are poised to get some fun in the sun:

• 38 per cent plan at least one two-week vacation

• 32 per cent will take at least one one-week vacation.

• 29 per cent of employed Canadians admit to calling in sick to take or extend a vacation.