A new study examining the well-being of Ontario residents is warning that commutes are getting longer.

The University of Waterloo report suggested that Ontarians have made little progress finding a healthy work-life balance despite access to flexible work hours.

The percentage of Ontario workers who had some choice in when their workday began and ended increased by 25 per cent between 1994 and 2010, the study found.

However, the report said that more workers were trapped in a "time crunch," or feeling as though there aren't enough hours in a day.

The report blamed lengthy commutes as a major factor in the time crunch. The average commute for Ontario workers increased from 47.1 minutes in 1994 to 53.5 minutes in 2010. Though 6.4 minutes may not sound like a major increase over 16 years, the increase represents an additional 27 hours of commuting per year.

"In other words, working Ontarians have lost over an entire day's worth of free time to commuting and have increased the detrimental impact on the environment, on their health, and on their overall wellbeing," the report said.

Coming as no surprise for Toronto residents, the report found that commuters living in and around the GTA had the longest commute times per day, averaging an hour in length.

The study also looked at education, community vitality, health, democratic engagement, environment, leisure and living standards to determine the general wellbeing of the province.

Highlights from the report

The report found an increase in access to early childhood education by almost 60 per cent from 1998 to 2008, a predictor of later educational achievement.

The number of students per educator shrank from 16 in 2004 to 13.6 students per teacher in 2010.

Nine out of 10 Ontarians are completing high school, and three of 10 are university graduates. In 1994, eight in 10 graduated from high school and two in 10 from university.

Other highlights include:

  • Participation in voluntary activities and community groups increased
  • Crime rates decreased and Ontarians said they felt safer
  • Most Ontario residents were happy with health care services
  • Fewer teens are smoking
  • Life expectancy was up from 78 years in 1994 to 81.5 in 2009
  • Half of Ontarians got flu shots in 2010, compared to 76 per cent in 1994
  • Less than half of Ontario voters felt confident in federal Parliament
  • Greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 2.9 per cent from 1994 to 2010, but levels have begun to rise again
  • Ontario residents spent 30 to 40 minutes less time per week on leisure activities in 2010, compared to 1994
  • The amount of time spent exercising rose from 21 times per month in 1994 to 26 times per month in 2006
  • Ontarians were taking 8.8 per cent longer vacations in 2010 than in 1994
  • The after-tax median income of families increased by $13,100 (from $52,900 in 1994 to $66,000 by 2010)
  • Home ownership affordability did not change from 1994 to 2010