A case for telecommuting


As we embrace a post-Covid-19 era, one thing is clear: the fight against climate change has taken a backseat. Unsurprisingly, transportation is a key sector which contributes to global warming. In 2019, transportation accounted for 43% of Quebec’s emissions. A large fraction of this number was daily commuters. Action must be taken to change our current route and meet climate goals – one solution is telecommuting.

Thousands of Quebecers commute every day, especially in rural communities such as Pontiac. A study in 2017 by Statistics Canada demonstrated that most commuters in our region drove to work in a private car, truck, or van. Furthermore, 88% of respondents answered that they worked outside the region. I’m no different: as an International Development student who lives in Pontiac and studies in Ottawa, I’m among the many individuals who commute daily.

Covid-19 presented organizations with a unique opportunity to telework full-time. Remote work not only reduces costs for commuters, it also significantly benefits the environment. Teleworking results in lower GHG emissions due to reduced travel demand and traffic congestion. This leads to decreased air pollution, acid rain and ozone depletion, among other factors.

Unfortunately, earlier this year, the Legault government announced that telework requirements would end as pandemic restrictions lifted. This September, I went from working virtually every day to commuting to Ottawa five days per week, and I know I’m not alone. After all the progress made in two years, we’re headed back to square one. There is significant unused telework capacity, and it presents huge benefits to our environment and our community. If telework remains a permanent fixture for Quebec in a post-Covid-19 world, it will play a part in the reduction of transportation, one of the largest contributors to global warming. Let’s reroute our current path to sustain a world of telecommuting!

Valentina Burke