Jackson And Associates
Current Trends

Group Benefits

Mental Health Issues Still Lead to Lost Working Days

A recent Telus Health report indicates employers are losing productive working days because of different issues related to mental health and work-related stress. More specifically, workers diagnosed with depression lose 56 working days per year, while those with anxiety lose 55 days per year.

Workers also cite work-related stress for losing valuable time at work including:

  • Workers reporting workplace conflict lose 55 working days in productivity per year
  • Workers reporting stress due to their relationship with their manager lose 49 productive working days per year
  • Workers that fear termination or layoff lose 48 days of productivity at work per year
  • Workers reporting conflicts in relationships with colleagues lose 47 working days of productivity per year
  • Workers citing volume of work lose 39 working days in productivity per year

A previous report by Telus found 82 per cent of employees view their well being as important in their workplace while just 41 per cent believe their employer supports them in this endeavour.

Investments in tools, processes, well-designed benefit plans and, most importantly, effective communication of all resources available to employees can cultivate a highly engaged and productive workforce

Plan Sponsors and Insurers Considering Coverage for Weight-Loss Drugs

According to a recent report by Express Scripts Canada, the generic drug, semaglutide, also marketed as Ozempic, was the top traditional drug by overall spend for private drug plans in both 2021 and 2022. The drug is used to treat type 2 diabetes however the medication has also been credited as a weight-loss treatment.

The annual drug spend per claimant was roughly $1,500 compared to other diabetes treatments, such as metformin, around $100.

Several insurers have taken steps to ensure Ozempic is used for its indication. These steps that include step therapy plans to ensure first-line diabetes treatments have preference over Ozempic while others have implemented prior authorization to ensure cost control.

At this time, other drugs have been developed specifically indicated for weight loss. There are a number of strategies available to plan sponsors that also can include annual maximums for this category of drugs.

New Workplace Evolving

A number of recent reports have found the traditional workplace where employees are reporting to a work site for a 5 day work week is changing. Three initiatives reported include:

  • hybrid work arrangements
  • four day work weeks
  • unlimited vacation time

According to Statistics Canada’s latest Research To Insights: Working From Home report, the number of Canadians working from home was 19.7% in November 2023. This percentage has continued to drop monthly since its peak in April 2020 at 41.1%. Meanwhile hybrid work arrangements have slowly been increasing with 11.7% of workers in a hybrid set-up in November 2023.

A report by York University analyzed responses from around 30 Canadian companies that had moved to a four-day workweek found that 90% stated employee productivity either increased or remained the same while 86% noticed improved recruitment and retention. The pandemic did have an impact as cited by 73% of employers in this study. The study also included findings from four-day workweek trials in other countries like Iceland where, from 2015 and 2019, there were improvements in overall employee health and reduced stress while a 2022 study in the UK saw revenue growth of 35% compared to similar periods prior to the four-day week being implemented.

A survey by the Achievers Workforce Institute, called the Belonging Blueprint report, which included 3,500 employees found that respondents who have unlimited vacation time were 43% more likely to feel a strong sense of belonging at work. They were also 66% more likely to be engaged, 54% more likely to have high job commitment and 48% more likely to self-report being productive at work.

Group Savings

Three Changes to PBSA

On November 8, 2023, Bill 33, Pension Benefits Standards Amendment Act, 2023, made changes to the Pension Benefits Standards Act (PBSA) that impact defined contribution pension plans.

There are three upcoming changes that plan administrators can act on now:

  1. permit individuals to transfer lump sum payments to a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF)
  2. provide an option to transfer a locked-in commuted value to an insurance company to purchase an annuity, and
  3. in the case of a pre-retirement death, permit surviving spouses the option to either receive a pension or make a commuted value transfer

Most Canadians Taking CPP Benefits Early

A Globe & Mail survey reports most Canadians are taking Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits at the earliest possible age to do so. The survey found 34% of respondents started the CPP benefit at age 60 while 19% did so at age 65 and 16% at age 70. This is in spite of the CPP legislation stating anyone taking benefits prior to age 65 will have benefits reduced by 0.6% every month amounting to 7.2% annually and a maximum reduction of 36% at age 60.

The reasons for the early withdrawals included the need to cover living expenses, health problems possibly impacting of not having a long retirement as well as the possibility of the CPP being compromised in the future.

FSRA Promoting Savings For Retirement

The Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) is holding its second annual Pension Awareness Day in response to research that shows a need for information about saving for retirement.

A pool by the organization shows that 88% of Ontarians feel more needs to be done to encourage people to save for retirement, while 60% feel there is not enough public information available about pensions. The split between those in Ontario with a workplace pension (48%) and those without (47%) say the top three benefits of a workplace pension are:

  • employers contributing to the pension plan (63%)
  • provides peace of mind about the future (61%), and
  • allows people to save regularly (58%)

To help with generating awareness about the importance of saving, the FSRA is holding the 2024 Pension Awareness Day on February 15th.

For more information, please visit https://fsrao.ca/pensionawareness


Dental Fee Guide Increases for 2024

  • Province
  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Nova Scotia
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nunavut
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
  • Yukon
  • Average Fee Increase
  • 3.62%
  • 4.73%
  • 4.90%
  • 4.90% (preventive) 4.50% (all other treatments)
  • 8.50%
  • 3.00%
  • 4.73%
  • 3.10%
  • 4.80%
  • 4.65%
  • 5.70%
  • 3.97%
  • Not yet available