A majority (82 per cent) of working Canadians believe employers should provide virtual care services for their employees, according to a survey conducted by Environics Research and sponsored by Dialogue Health Technologies Inc.

The survey, which polled more than 1,700 Canadians, found six in 10 said they’d likely use virtual care if it was available through their benefits plan and a similar amount said they’d use an online platform to access a mental-health professional. Indeed, almost two-thirds (60 per cent) of respondents in a group benefits plan said they’d prefer accessing them online and about seven in 10 agreed virtual care can allow them to be more proactive about their overall health.

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Despite respondents’ confidence in virtual health care, 26 per cent said they don’t know how to access their employee benefits and 17 per cent admitted they aren’t even aware of what mental-health resources are available via their benefits plan. Additionally, 24 per cent of respondents indicated the mental-health support available in their benefits plan isn’t sufficient.

As well, the survey noted Canadians have found access to health care increasingly more difficult in 2021 (50 per cent), compared to 2020 (46 per cent). A quarter (25 per cent) of respondents indicated it would typically take four to seven days to see a health-care professional for a minor health concern and a similar number (23 per cent) said it would take more than a week. “Such wait times can have proliferating negative impacts on health and wellness and can lead to lost productivity and increased disruptions to life as the condition worsens,” said a report on the survey findings.

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However, the survey also found a majority (82 per cent) of respondents said they want to take better care of themselves amid the prolonged coronavirus pandemic, with slightly more than a third (39 per cent) planning to use their employee benefits in 2022 to help them realize their health and wellness goals.

Notably, a quarter (25 per cent) indicated their overall health has declined due to the pandemic and almost half (45 per cent) said their mental-health concerns, such as stress and anxiety, have worsened. As a result, more than half (56 per cent) noted they’re more conscious of their health now than they were prior to the start of the pandemic.

Read: Canadian employees prioritizing benefits programs over pay: survey