Jackson And Associates
Current Trends

Mental Health in the Workplace

Disability related to mental health issues represent costs in excess of $16 billion dollars annually in Canada. A new standard for the management of mental health issues has been outlined by the Mental Health Institute and employers will be obligated to implement it in the coming months.

In a survey performed by Morneau Shepell in 2014 suggests the source of issues are related to the workplace, including:

  • 33% of working Canadians are now suffering or have suffered from a mental health condition, such as depression or an anxiety disorder
  • 27% of employees report experiencing significant symptoms of stress
  • 99% of physicians surveyed indicate that work issues have arole in the mental health cases they see

Note: the survey included 100 employers, over 1,000 employees and 117 physicians

Actions suggested for employers include training managers on how to communicate and support employees, collect data on the nature of absences and disabilities to identify possible drivers and even specific areas within the workplace where issues are prevalent and develop a strategy which can include ergonomic changes, introduction of flex time, exercise breaks, incentive based wellness plans and ongoing education on mental health to remove any stigma attached to the condition.

Provincial Drug Plan Changes – Saskatchewan & Quebec

The bill mandating minimum drug coverage that we outlined in our November Update has been eliminated. This removes the requirement for employer sponsored group drug plans to meet minimum coverage standards. As a result, plan sponsors will not be required to make any changes to their existing plans.

Good News from SOA

Effective April 1, 2015, the Government of Saskatchewan continued to phase in their approach to lower the cost of generic drug prices initially introduced in June 2011 by further reducing the brand price for most oral solid forms by 25%. The Government will give pharmacies time to dispense stock purchased prior to the April reductions so the actual price reduction will take effect June 1, 2015.

On April 21, the Government of Quebec sanctioned Bill 28 which will impact on prescription drug insurance including:

  • Effective June 20, employer sponsored plans can limit the services pharmacists charge for to those covered by the public plan (actual details have yet to be published)
  • Effective October 1, 2015, e,ployer sponsored plans will be able to reimburse drug expenses based on the price of the least expensive equivalent available on the market and in accordance with the benefit provisions in their contract (previously the plan had to adhere to the 67.5% minimum reimbursement for amounts submitted by the pharmacist

Overall this is good news for plan sponsors as it affords more opportunity to exercise better cost controls.

Employment Standards Poster Requirements

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has released a new version (6.0) of the Employment Standards Poster. The poster describes important rights and requirements under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and must be posted in the workplace where employees will see it. The rules regarding the poster are:

  • The earlier version of the poster should be replaced with version 6.0 • Employers must provide all current employees covered by the Act with a copy by June 19, 2015
  • Employers must provide all current employees covered by the Act with a copy by June 19, 2015
  • Any new employees hired after May 20, 2015, must be given a copy within 30days of their date of hire
  • If an employee requests a copy of the poster in a language other than English and the Ministry has published a version in that language, the employer must provide both the translated version and the English copy
  • The employer may provide the poster as a printed copy, as an attachment to an email to the employee or via a link to the document on an internet database (for the later option, the employer must ensure the employee has access to a printer and that they know how to use both the computer and the printer)

The poster is available for free at www.ontario.ca/serviceontario

Childcare Responsibilities – An Employer’s Obligation

The definition of “family status” under human rights legislation continues to be one of the hottest topics in Canadian employment law. In yet another court case (SMS Equipment v. Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, Local 707) the employer was found to have discriminated against the employee on the basis of family status as it required her to work rotating day and night shifts.

In this case, there were far reaching interpretations that resulted including where the Madam Justice found that in order to demonstrate discrimination on the grounds of family status, the claimant must show “that a child is under their care and supervision” and “that the childcare obligation at issue engages the individual’s legal responsibility to that child as opposed to a personal choice”.

Employers are required to accommodate employees with legal childcare obligations even to the point of undue hardship, however the legal test to be applied with respect to “family status” appears to be dependent on the jurisdiction. This decision should be of particular interest to organizations running a variety of shifts.