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Buying happiness: Quebec company purchases private island for employees

A Montreal-area company has come up with a novel — if extreme — way to boost employee happiness: buying them a private island. A building is seen on an island in an undated handout photo. The Labelle, Que., getaway includes a single, two-bedroom cabin with enough room for eight people, as well as a barbecue, pedal boat, dinghy and other water sport equipment. HO-Mon Technicien/The Canadian Press

A Montreal-area company has come up with a novel — if extreme — way to boost employee happiness: buying them a private island.

The 30 workers at IT services company Mon Technicien are now able to book stays on their employer’s newly acquired, 930-square-metre island in the Laurentian Mountains northwest of Montreal.

Mon Technicien president Sylvain Dion says his Laval-Que. company jumped on the chance to buy the island as a way to expand its employee benefits package.

“We seized the opportunity,” he said in an interview Thursday. “It’s true that the island may be one of the biggest items we have” available to staff, he added, “but it’s part of our corporate culture of making people happy, and then letting them enjoy their work.”

The Labelle-Que. getaway includes a single, two-bedroom cabin with enough room for eight people, as well as a barbecue, pedal boat, dinghy and other water sport equipment.

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Located about 550 metres from the mainland, the off-the-grid accommodation has an outhouse with a composting toilet — soon to be connected directly to the house, Dion assured — and a gas-powered energy system, which Mon Technicien is in the process of replacing with solar panels, the company president said.

He declined to share the price of the property.

Employees — who Mon Technician calls “players” — can use an internal booking system to reserve the cabin. They aren’t directly charged for their stays, but the perk is taxable. Work-related trips, such as retreats for group projects, have no cost for employees.

The biggest challenge, according to Dion, is getting to the island. Right now, the handful of small on-site watercraft are the only means to shuttle to and from the shore.

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Mon Technician plans to purchase a pontoon or other, larger motorboat, but employees will need licences to operate them.

Despite that obstacle, Dion said the unique refuge has been well received, particularly among members of the public. “Every time we say an island, everybody’s eyes light up with question marks,” the president said.

He said that even though Mon Technician has never had trouble attracting qualified employees — the company just hired 10 more people — he expects the prospect of private island sojourns will make the company more alluring.

“It’s going to help with attraction, for sure,” he said. “We’re going to take advantage of that aspect.”

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