Ontario asking employees to save energy by taking off ties

Premier Dalton McGuinty impressed by environmental program in Japan


Ottawa (17 August 2006) - Save on air conditioning by taking off a tie? They're doing it in Japan. Why not in Canada?

That's an idea Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is proposing after a recent visit to Tokyo, where the government has been encouraging less formality in the workplace to reduce the demand for air conditioning during Japan's hot, humid summer months.

Called Cool Biz, the Japanese campaign is part of a national program to help meet Kyoto Protocol targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

If the idea can take hold in Japan, where many Japanese men are loathe to relinquish the formality of their suits, there is no reason it can't become part of the Ontario's energy conservation program, McGuinty said this week in Ottawa.

"No ties in the summer. I intend to formalize this arrangement for government workers beginning next summer as we turn the air conditioning up," the premier told a municipal audience.

McGuinty also noted that the idea has already prompted questions from women about making panty hose optional. His response? "I'm not touching that."

The premier has yet to spell out details about air-conditioning reductions next year or what workplace standards may be affected by the changes he has in mind.

The Japanese program advises workers to choose short sleeved shirts, with starched collars that stand up, and to avoid jackets or ties.

A few problems have arisen. Some government workers report feeling embarrassed on the subway when surrounded by non-government workers in full suits. Others say it is impolite not to be wear ties and jackets during meetings with people from outside government ranks.

In Ontario, government managers apparently have not yet discussed the idea with employee representatives such as the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE). NUPGE