Canadian organizations at different stages in development of health and wellness programs

Only about one-quarter of Canadian organizations feel that their organization has developed a comprehensive wellness strategy, and one-in-ten have not done so at all. This despite a large majority of Canadian organizations that say they take the overall health of their employees into consideration in the design of their benefit programs, according to a Conference Board of Canada survey.

“During tough economic times, organizations face pressure to make cuts to programs viewed as non-essential. Often, workplace health and wellness initiatives are among the first to be cut. However, it is in these turbulent times, where stress is high and employee morale is a concern, that workplace health and wellness initiatives are needed most,” says Karla Thorpe, associate director, compensation and industrial relations for the Conference Board.

“Canadian organizations are at different stages when it comes to workplace health and wellness,” she says. “Some struggle with implementing health and wellness initiatives, while others have successfully integrated health and wellness into their overall corporate strategy and identity. The leading-edge organizations are also making issues such as mental health and ‘presenteeism’ priorities in their health and wellness strategy. ”

This report, Beyond Benefits: Creating a Culture of Health and Wellness in Canadian Organizations, discusses the link between workplace health and wellness programs, employee health and greater organizational health and features case studies of Canadian organizations that have implemented innovative health and wellness practices. These organizations include:

  • BC Hydro, British Columbia  
  • Lighthouse Publishing, Nova Scotia  
  • Pfizer Canada, Quebec  
  • TELUS, British Columbia  
  • The City of Calgary, Alberta  
  • The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario, Ontario  
  • UBC Okanagan, British Columbia

The report also includes tips to help employers that are looking to either develop or improve their workplace health and wellness strategies. For example, the report highlights how organizations can move forward by starting small-focusing on the fundamentals before expanding their programs.

This report is part of a series that contains data collected from The Conference Board of Canada’s inaugural survey of 255 Canadian organizations’ employer-sponsored benefit programs. Additional information on extended health-care plans, dental plans, life and accident plans, and paid time off can be found in the recently released report, Benefits Benchmarking 2009: Balancing Competitiveness and Costs. The third report in this series will focus on the subject of disability plans and casual absences, and will be released in spring 2010.

For more information on the report, visit