Calgary Benefits Summit

May 22, 2019
Fairmont Palliser Hotel, Calgary

The 2019 Calgary Benefits Summit

The theme of this year's conference is:

Changing with the times
As today’s employees change and become more health conscious, so too must employer benefits plans. What can you do to ensure your plans are evolving with the needs of employees? Are you covering the treatments they need and offering them support to help manage their health?

At the Calgary Benefits Summit, learn how to make your organization its healthiest by starting with your benefits plans.  

This event is designed for brokers, plan advisors and senior level personnel within plan sponsor organizations in both the public and private sectors.

Who Should Attend?

All employers responsible for benefits plans, as well as brokers and benefits consultants, are welcome to attend.

This full-morning conference will cost $139+tax to attend.

This event sells out quickly. Register now to guarantee your spot!


Francesca Allman

Lauren Harris
Emma Ramsey

Join the conversation! @BenCanMag

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Calgary Benefits Summit

May 22, 2019
Fairmont Palliser Hotel, Calgary

**Please note that this agenda is a draft and may be subject to change

7:30 – 8:25 a.m.
Breakfast and registration

8:25 - 8:30 a.m.
Opening remarks

8:30 - 9:00 a.m.
Session one
A journey to becoming Canada’s first Blue Zone

The community of Airdrie is serious about their health and wellness. They want to live longer, be healthier and become Canada’s healthiest community and first Blue Zone. Learn how to get your organization Blue Zone ready — improve people’s lives and enhance the places where they live, work and play.

Mark Seland, chief executive officer, Abrio Health

(This session has been made possible by Alberta Blue Cross.)

9:00 - 9:30 a.m.
Session two
Take action on obesity
Obesity is recognized by leading health organizations, including the Canadian Medical Association and the World Health Organization, as a chronic medical disease. However, despite this, it is not often treated as such. This session will provide a review of the complex nature of obesity, and an overview of the “Awareness, Care, and Treatment in Obesity Management” (ACTION) study – the first national Canadian study investigating perceptions, attitudes and barriers to obesity management in persons with obesity (PwO), healthcare providers (HCPs) and employers – and discuss initial steps employers can take to help support their employees living with obesity.

Dr. Shahebina Walji, medical director, Calgary Weight Management Centre

(This session has been made possible by Novo Nordisk.)

9:30 - 10:00 a.m.
Session three
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – What is it, why is it so popular, and what is with this e-therapy stuff?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is the subject of many recent articles relating to benefit plan design and disability management. In addition, a variety of digital therapy products are emerging in the marketplace. The problem is that few people outside of the world of psychology and psychotherapy actually know what CBT is, let alone understand the digital versions of CBT. Learn how CBT works, how it is different than counselling, and about other evidence-based psychotherapies. This session will be of interest to anyone who is considering adding a digital product to a benefit plan, or who already has a digital product.

Peter Gove, innovation leader, health management, Green Shield Canada

10:00 - 10:30 a.m.

Session four
Private drug coverage, costs and cost drivers
Joe Farago will share insights into Canada’s drug coverage system with a lens on the private market. The session will provide recent comparisons on how Canada compares to the global market, a view on important new policies and provide results from new research taking a closer look at what is driving growth in Canada’s private drug plans and where it is heading. This session will provide new insight into the factors that have contributed to growth in the private drug plans and those moving forward.

Joe Farago, executive director, healthcare innovation, Innovative Medicines Canada

10:30 - 11:00 a.m.
Networking break

11:00 - 11:30 a.m.
Session five
Towards the tipping point: Balancing the cost of employee wellness in the era of biologics
From atopic dermatitis, to migraine prevention, to psoriatic arthritis – novel biologic-based therapies are redefining the way we manage complex conditions. They are also responsible for a rapidly growing proportion of drug reimbursement costs. With a slew of innovator molecules and biosimilars entering the Canadian market, coupled with evolving plan member expectations, plan sponsors and providers need to keep employees healthy while shifting towards a value-based reimbursement model. By mapping out the patient journey through the lens of a frontline healthcare provider, this session will explore key emerging considerations for plan sponsors investing in innovative therapies.

Aaron Sihota, primary care pharmacist and clinical instructor, University of British Columbia's Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences

(This session has been made possible by Amgen.)

11:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Session six
The value of Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) in the workplace
Real time Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) is an advanced glucose monitoring technology that enables people with diabetes to immediately treat or prevent extreme highs (hyperglycemia) and lows (hypoglycemia) that negatively impact their health, quality of life and workplace performance. This session will discuss the value of CGM to plan members and plan sponsors.

Suzanne Lepage, private health plan strategist

(This session has been made possible by Dexcom.)

12:00 - 12:30 p.m.
Session seven
The Biologics Savings Partnerships™ and achieving patient stability
Naushad Budhwani, a private insurance manager within the government affairs and market access team at Janssen Inc., will present the company’s Biologics Savings Partnerships™. Mina Mawani, the president and chief executive officer at Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, will then follow up by sharing the perspective of the treatment journey of patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). This overview will include the challenges in achieving remission, the organization's position on biosimilars and will discuss the patient implications of non-medical switch policy.

Naushad Budhwani, private insurance manager, government affairs and market access, Janssen Inc.
Mina Mawani, president and chief executive officer, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada

12:30 -12:35 p.m.
Closing remarks

Calgary Benefits Summit

Calgary Benefits Summit - Speakers CONFERENCE SPEAKERS

Naushad Budhwani

Naushad Budhwani

Naushad Budhwani is a private insurance manager within the government affairs and market access team at Janssen Inc., which is a division of Johnson & Johnson that markets medications for a wide number of diseases including autoimmune disorders, oncology, HIV, mental health, diabetes and women’s health. Budhwani is responsible for the development of strategy to acquire and maintain optimal reimbursement for key Janssen products.  Budhwani has a master of science in health economics and a science and economics degree from the University of Waterloo.


Joe Farago

Joe Farago

Joe Farago is the executive director of private payers and investment at Innovative Medicines Canada. He joined the organization in January 2016, and in this role, he is responsible for the private payer market and the national innovation strategy. Farago is leading the pharmaceutical sector's efforts in taking a more proactive, research-based approach to addressing today’s issues, ensuring tomorrow’s workforces in Canada have strong private market coverage that is best suited to meeting their needs. Ensuring employees are healthy and productive at work is a fundamental value of healthy private drug benefits. Over the last 27 years, Farago has acquired a vast knowledge of the Canadian pharmaceutical and specialty biopharmaceutical markets. He has a wide range of experience in market access, government affairs, sales, marketing and operations. Farago has had the opportunity to be part of establishing two organizations in the Canadian market from the ground up and brings a strong understanding of market access success and organizational development. He started his pharmaceutical career with Servier Canada in 1989, and then he entered the plasma protein specialty market with CSL Limited in 2007, where he was instrumental in establishing and building the Canadian organization to a market leader. Farago attended Carleton University, graduating with a bachelor of science degree, and he currently lives in Manotick, Ontario, with his wife and their three children.


Peter Gove

Peter Gove

Peter Gove, innovation leader, health management with Green Shield Canada (GSC), has oversight for initiatives under GSC’s Change4Life banner. Prior to coming to GSC, Gove was responsible for the national disability management and life insurance claims program for a large Canadian life insurance company. Gove has a master’s degree in social work and is a registered social worker. Continuing his education, he started a doctorate program in applied health science at the University of Waterloo. He has presented internationally in the areas of health management and disability management and was the recipient of the 2014 vision and values award, presented by the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association.


Suzanne Lepage

Suzanne Lepage

Suzanne Lepage is a private health plan strategist who bridges the pharmaceutical and group benefits industry. Prior to beginning her consulting practice, Lepage was national manager, private healthcare, with the pharmaceutical company Roche Canada. During that time, she developed and executed private healthcare strategies and managed a patient assistance program for biologic medications. Prior to joining the pharmaceutical industry, Lepage worked in group benefits in a wide variety of roles for almost 20 years.  



Mina Mawani

Mina Mawani

Mina Mawani has been the president and chief executive officer of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada since Apr. 2015.  Applying her passion and enthusiasm to the Crohn’s and colitis community, Mawani is deeply engaged with the issues that matter most to her constituents – finding cures and improving lives for the millions of Canadians affected by these chronic diseases. With over 15 years of experience in non-profit, private sector, hospital, and government roles, Mawani is an experienced leader and change navigator, guiding non-profits from vision to strategy to results. Mawani currently serves on the board of Pine River Institute and served on the boards of Seneca College, Research Canada and Women’s College Hospital (where she chaired the governance and nominating committee). Mawani is a member of the International Women’s Forum Canada (IWFC). Mawani has held several leadership roles, including president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, chief development officer and executive committee member at Civic Action, and chief executive officer of the Aga Khan Council for Canada. Earlier in her career, she held key roles at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers. In 2017, Mawani received the ICCC Humanitarian of the Year award and became a Diversity 50 candidate. In 2015, Mawani received the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award for her achievements and contributions to Canada.


Mark Seland

Mark Seland

Mark Seland is currently the chief executive officer of Abrio Health - formerly Airdrie & Area Health Cooperative. The organization was established in the city of 70,000 to use private capital to develop and construct a self-sustaining public health and health care facility and community health programming. In other international jurisdictions, similar applications have improved quality and longevity of life and reduced health care costs by 30 per cent. This is an innovative model being implemented and studied within Alberta for possible province-wide application. Abrio Health works with various government health and social services departments, provincial and local agencies and not for profit service delivery organizations, as well as for profit health related organizations, including Alberta Blue Cross, to impact the social determinants of health across all sectors from workplaces to schools, to food sources and development policy and planning. Seland has worked in government, private sector and not for profit organizations with background in government affairs, policy development, change management, organizational behaviour, system integration, pension plan and group benefits programs.


Aaron Sihota

Aaron Sihota

Aaron Sihota is a primary care pharmacist and clinical instructor at the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) faculty of pharmaceutical sciences. As part of a specialized collaborative pharmacy that focuses in outcome-based immunotherapy and dermatology services, Sihota has worked in collaboration with a group of specialist physicians and nurses to educate, monitor, and optimize patient medication therapy leveraging emerging digital health technology. Sihota is the co-creator of an advanced dermatology elective course at the UBC’s faculty of pharmaceutical sciences for entry to practice doctor of pharmacy students. The first offering of its kind in North America explores dermatological conditions from the unique lens of collaborative practice; faculty include dermatologists as well as rheumatologists and dermatology residents. Sihota is the chapter author for the management of acne and atopic dermatitis in the Compendium of Therapeutics for Minor Ailments (CTMA) and is a regular skincare columnist for Pharmacy Practice + Business magazine. He has a keen interest in fostering collaborative care opportunities between primary care practitioners, dermatologists and rheumatologists and has been involved with educating dermatology residents. Sihota has developed multiple accredited dermatology and rheumatology healthcare education programs as well as biologics resources and tools, and is regularly called on to participate at forums across North America to explore trends and innovation in specialty care delivery.


Dr. Shahebina Walji

Dr. Shahebina Walji

Dr. Shahebina Walji is the medical director of Calgary Weight Management Centre, a community-based clinic that provides comprehensive and evidence-based care to patients who struggle with their weight. She received her medical degree from McMaster University and her family medicine designation from the University of Toronto, and she is a Diplomate with the American Board of Obesity Medicine. Dr. Walji is an assistant clinical professor with the University of Calgary, offering both didactic and clinical teaching to family medicine residents, and she is currently working to formally build obesity education into the family medicine curriculum.  She is also extensively involved in the development of educational programs to: increase knowledge about obesity and its treatments to practicing health professionals, enhance public education about obesity and improve care access to obesity interventions. Dr. Walji co-founded the Calgary chapter of Obesity Canada and served as co-chairperson for three years.  Currently she is on the scientific committee for Obesity Canada at the national level and is an invited co-author of the soon to be published Canadian Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Obesity. In her "spare" time, Dr. Walji enjoys cooking and spending time with her kids.

Event Details

Fairmont Palliser Hotel
133 9th Avenue SW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Fairmont Palliser Hotel
Calgary's premiere hotel, the Fairmont Palliser, is admired for its stunning architecture and impressive history. Centrally located, this landmark is near the city's financial and business district, and is just a short walk away from Calgary's lively shopping scene and ars, entertainment and culture venues. The hotel offers distinctive accommodation, and guests have referred to it as both majestic and classic. Since opening on June 1, 1914, the Fairmont Palliser has delivered outstanding hospitality, and it is the top choice to celebrate special occasions and to stay during business and leisure trips. With comfortable, luxurious accommodations and a prime location, the Fairmont Palliser Hotel is where you want to be.

Fairmont Palliser Hotel

For more information about event logistics, please contact Alyah Mann at

Getting there:

By bus:

• The Greyhound Bus Depot is on the same street as the hotel. To get from the station to the Fairmon Palliser, it is about a five-minute taxi ride away.

By car:

From YYC Calgary International Airport:

• Take Barlow Trail North
• Left on Airport Trail
• Deerfoot Trail South
• Right on 16th Avenue
• Right on 6th Avenue
• Left on 3rd Street SW
• Left on 9th Avenue

From the North (Edmonton):

• Take HWY-2 South Towards Calgary
• Take Memorial Dr exit, EXIT 256
• Merge onto Memorial Dr West
• Take the ramp toward 4 Ave S
• Turn slight left ontop 4 Avenue Flyover
• Left onto 1 St SE
• Right onto 10 Ave SE
• Take the 1st right onto 1 St SW
• Take the 1st right onto 9 Ave SW

From the East or West (Kananaskis):

• Take TransCanada Hwy 1 East to 16th Avenue
• Turn on Centre Street (Southbound)
• Turn right onto 6 Ave SW
• Turn left onto 3 St SW
• Turn left onto 9 Ave SW
• The Fairmont Palliser is just past 1 Street SW

From the South:

• Take Hwy 2 North, Macleod Trail Northbound
• Turn left on 10th Avenue
• Right on 1st Street SW
• Right on 9th Avenue


Valet Parking:
• Please park your vehicle in front of the hotel's main entrance on 9th Avenue. Rates extended to patrons who enjoy hotel dining outlets or facilities only.

Overnight* includes in and out access
• Sunday - Thursday, $40
• Friday - Saturday, $25

• Monday - Friday, up to 4 hours $20, more than 4 hours, $40 (full-day rate applies)*
• Saturday - Sunday, up to 4 hours $10, more than 4 hours, $15*

Prices include GST. *Rates are subject to change.

Self -Parking:
Impark lot with access off of 10th Avenue West or East or off of 9th Avenue (east of hotel). Take elevators to third floor and walk west to hotel mezzanine entrance. Please note that the hotel does not own or manage the Impark lot and prices are subject to change without notice.

Early Bird (Tuesday – Thursday, enter before 9 a.m., valid until 6 p.m.) - $5
All Day (Tuesday-Thursday, valid until 6 p.m.) - $27
All-Day Special (Monday and Friday, valid until 6 p.m.) - $18
Evenings (from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. next day) - $6
Weekends (Saturday to Sunday and holidays, 6 a.m. to 6 a.m.) - $6


Francesca Allman

Lauren Harris
Emma Ramsey