Canadian employees want more comprehensive coverage under their benefits plans, according to a survey by the Conference Board of Canada and Telus Health.

The survey, which polled more than 1,500 Canadian workers, found a majority (82 per cent) of respondents want basic dental services (such as preventative and minor restorative) covered by their benefits plans, compared to the 25 per cent who said their plan already covers these services. It also found about 20 per cent of respondents have vision care covered under their plans, compared to 82 per cent who said they’d like eye examinations and 80 per cent who noted they’d like glasses and/or contact lenses covered.

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About seven in 10 (70 per cent) said they’d like basic/core prescription coverage, while only 37 per cent of respondents said this was covered under their plans. In addition, 71 per cent said they’d like hospital accommodation included; however, just 36 per cent have emergency care, including hospital and out-of-country coverage. A majority (70 per cent) said they’d like to see long-term disability included in their plans and 68 per cent cited paid sick leave, excluding short- and long-term disability, compared to the 33 per cent who said their plans covered disability absence including short-term disability, long-term disability, critical illness and paid sick days.

Other benefits cited by the respondents that weren’t already covered by their employers were pensions (74 per cent), retirement savings plans (73 per cent) and major restorative dental services such as caps, crowns and bridges (72 per cent). However, 23 per cent said their plans cover paramedical services (such as massage therapy and physiotherapy), followed by mental-health services (22 per cent) and an employee assistance program (36 per cent).

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When asked to rank their top 10 benefits, respondents chose basic prescription coverage as their No. 1 choice, followed by basic dental, a pension, coverage for glasses/contacts, retirement savings plans, eye exams, paid sick leave, restorative dental work and long-term disability and short-term disability. The lowest-rated perks included onsite car washing (13 per cent), onsite dry cleaning/laundry (13 per cent), creativity rooms (16 per cent) and party rooms (17 per cent).

The survey also noted that use of virtual health-care benefits is on the rise. Currently, 40 per cent of respondents use virtual health care for either physical or mental-health services. Among users, roughly a quarter (26 per cent) said they prefer in-person services. In addition, virtual pharmacies are used by just nine per cent of all survey respondents, but 31 per cent said they’d use them at least some of the time.

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