Jackson And Associates
Current Trends

Group Benefits

Survey Indicates Most Employers Can’t Offer All Benefits Employees Want

A new survey by the Harris Poll on behalf of Express Services Inc indicates 70% of employers say it’s impossible to provide all of the benefits employees are demanding.

The survey polled more than 500 Canadian hiring decision-makers and found that, while employers recognize employee benefits are an important part of attracting and retaining talent, 42% said more employees are asking for better benefits this year than last year due to the increase in cost of living. Employers are clearly hearing this message based on additional findings in the survey which include:

  • While 58% of employers said their traditional benefit plans will remain the same, 36% plan to increase benefits which is up from 28% the prior year
  • 59% of employers stated they have modified benefits specifically to retain current employees up from 51% the prior year
  • These changes include cost-of-living raises (25%), increased paid time off (17%), additional choices within the benefit plan (14%), health-care incentives such as mental health resources (14%) improved retirement plans (13%) and increased sick leave (13%)

We recognize it’s not feasible to offer every requested benefit but do suggest prioritizing those that will resonate the most within the workplace for consideration which can be ascertained by studying current benefit claim patterns as well as trends within your industry sector.

Top 10 Drugs in 2023

A recent study by Industrial Alliance Financial group focused on the top ten drugs of 2023 responsible for the highest spending for all group insurance plans. The top ten drugs account for 30% of the year’s spending, up 6% over 2022 and the number of claims for these same drugs has increased from 4.5% in 2022 to 5.9% in 2023.

We will focus on the top five to illustrate the Drug brand name. the treatment and how the ranking has changed over the most recent three years and they are:

  • Ozempic, Rybelsus for the treatment of diabetes is ranked number 1 up from 3 in 2021
  • Trikafta for the treatment of Cystic Fibrosis ranked second up from 161 in 2021
  • Remicade and biosimilars for the treatment of inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, ranked third down from first in 2021
  • Stelara also for the treatment of inflammatory conditions ranked fourth and up slightly from fifth in 2021, and
  • Humira and biosimilars also for the treatment of inflammatory conditions ranked fifteh down from second in 2021

No new Drugs made it into the top ten but there were changes in the rankings. Trikafta is a very expensive drug but has proven to change the course of the cystic fibrosis disease. Ozempic and Rybelsus, while intended for the treatment of diabetes were also found to be effective with weight loss and many insurance carriers have now introduced a requirement for pre-authorization requiring an attending physician’s written support for the medication.

Employees Believe “Well-being” is Equally Important to Salary

In a recent survey by GymPass, 93% of employees believe well-being is equally important to salary which is an increase of 10% year over year. The survey polled 5,100 employees and found 87% said they’d consider leaving a company that doesn’t focus on employee well-being which is up 13% from the previous year.

Other key findings in the survey include:

  • 96% of respondents said they seek employers who prioritize well-being
  • 95% noted emotional wellness while 93% stated physical wellness boosts their productivity and satisfaction at work
  • 77% of employees report engaging with their company’s well-being program which is up 9% from the previous year

Another survey by Dialogue Health Technologies of 6,400 Canadians uncovered insights by age demographics across five dimensions of well-being: mood, stress, sleep, activeness and sense of purpose.

Key findings include:

  • Employees aged 20 to 29 have the lowest general well-being score at 46.9 out of 100
  • The average Canadian employee scores 49.4
  • Those aged 50 to 69 score 52.4
  • Those aged 40 to 49 are at 49.9 followed by aged 30 to 39 at 49.1

The top healthy habit by far at 32% of respondents is getting better sleep followed by being more active at 16%.

These surveys do indicate that Wellness is very important to keep employees healthy, productive and engaged at work.

Group Savings

Conventional Retirement Approach is Outdated for Young Employees

According to a new survey by Leger on behalf of Wealthsimple, 74% of Canadian employees aged 24 to 44 indicates the conventional approach to retirement – halting work at age 65 – is an outdated concept. The survey polled over 1.500 Canadian employees and found 60% do not have access to a workplace pension plan. According to the survey, over half those aged 25 to 40 indicate they won’t have enough savings to retire in the conventional sense and are looking at investments that can maintain their lifestyle now. Growing their family (19%) and saving to purchase a home (41%) are other priorities. Just 7% of respondents aged 18 to 24 indicate they’re planning for a traditional retirement.

Federal Budget & RRSPs

The Home Buyers Plan (HBP) allows home buyers to withdraw money from their Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) to help buy or build a new home. The withdrawal is not subject to withholding tax as long as the money is repaid to the RRSP within a certain period.

The budget proposes to increase the amount that an be withdrawn from an RRSP from $35,000 to $60,000 and this is available after April 16, 2024. As well, the changes extend the grace period for when homeowners must start repaying their RRSP from two years to five. This extension applies to HBP participants who made a first withdrawal between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2025.


Minimum Wage Increases in B.C.

The current minimum wage in British Columbia (B.C.) is $16.75 per hour and will increase to $17.40 per hour on June 1, 2024. In the past, annual increases, if any, to the minimum wage were discretionary decisions made through an Order of Council. Going forward, annual adjustments to the minimum wage will automatically increase every June1, based on the average change in the consumer price index for B.C. over the past year.

New Sick Leave Plan in P.E.I.

On October 1, 2024, Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) enacts Bill 106 which establishes a new paid sick leave program. This enables employees to earn up to three days of paid sick leave as follows:

  • After 12 months of continuous employment, an employee earns one day of paid sick leave
  • After 24 months, the employee earns an additional day and
  • After 36 months, and employee earns a third day of paid sick leave

There are guidelines pertaining to the new legislation that include:

  • Hourly employees must be paid their regular rate multiplied by the number of hours they would have worked had they not requested sick leave while salaried employees must be paid their rate of pay for a day of work
  • Employees cannot carry over unused paid sick days to the following year
  • Employers may require employees who take three consecutive days of sick leave to provide medical certificates
  • Employees are entitled to take any (available) paid sick days before unpaid days of sick leave

Employers with operations in P.E.I. should review their sick leave programs to ensure they are compliant and that appropriate staff are trained on the new rules for paid sick leave use, payment calculation and recordkeeping.