Chronic Disease at Work

June 05, 2019
Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel

What does chronic disease look like? How are chronic conditions such as cancer, migraine, diabetes and obesity impacting the workplaces of today and tomorrow? 

This conference will include breakfast and lunch. Sessions will begin at approximately 8:40 a.m. and conclude at 2:00 p.m.

It will feature educational presentations around trends and treatments in an effort to help plan sponsors and advisors make the best decisions for their plans and members.

The Chronic Disease at Work conference will cost $129.00 plus tax to attend.


This conference is open to qualified plan sponsors, advisors and group insurers.



Francesca Allman

Cassandra Williamson-Hopp

Emma Ramsey

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Chronic Disease at Work

June 5, 2019
Sheraton Centre, Toronto

7:30 – 8:35 AM
Breakfast and Registration

8:35 – 8:40 AM
Opening Remarks

8:40 – 9:10 AM
Understanding the psychology of chronic disease
The healthcare system was built to deal with acute issues, not with chronic disease. Yet nearly 2/3 of working-age Canadians have one or more largely preventable chronic diseases such as diabetes, mental illness and cardiovascular disease. And despite billions of dollars in healthcare spending by both the public sector and private benefits plans, the majority of people still struggle to manage these conditions, with over 80% saying they need more information and support. And so, their conditions progress and end up becoming even more complicated, and costly… both to the public system, and to employers. What exactly is happening here? Why do people have such a difficult time managing these conditions? What specific challenges do they face? What is going on in their hearts and minds, and how can we better understand what they are going through? And perhaps most importantly, what can we do about it? Join two of Canada’s leading experts on the psychology of chronic disease and the science of behaviour change, Dr. Michael Vallis and Dr. Diana Sherifali, as they explore the answers to these questions and more in this thought-provoking fireside-chat style discussion.

Jonathan Tafler, senior director, Employer Health Solutions

Dr. Michael Vallis, health behaviour change consultant, associate professor -- Dalhousie University & Dr. Diana Sherifali, associate professor -- McMaster University

(This session has been made possible by Health Solutions by Shoppers Drugmart.)


9:10 – 9:40 AM
The need to address obesity in the workplace
There are 6 million Canadians currently living with obesity and the health and economic consequences of this chronic disease are drastic.  Yet, many employers continue to ignore the impact obesity is having on their workplace.  This session will address why employers must prioritize obesity management and how they can play a bigger role in helping their employees living with this complex disease.

David A. Macklin, medical director of the weight management program, Medcan & Toronto Mount Sinai Hospital High Risk/Special Pregnancy BMI Unit

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


9:40 – 10:10 AM


10:10 – 10:40 AM
Rethinking long-term disability: Cannabis-assisted return to work
How can the intentional use of medical cannabis promote functional recovery and help restore employment opportunities for injured workers? Join us for an intimate look at the success story of an injured worker who shares his insights into how he overcame disability to return to his work and life.

Michael Koehn, founder, The CannSolve Clinic

(This session has been made possible by Aurora Cannabis Inc.)


10:40 – 11:10 AM
Cardiovascular disease and its impact on employees
Dr. Milan Gupta will describe the impact that cardiovascular disease can have on an employee’s health and the treatment options available. He will provide examples of the effects that a heart attack and/or stroke can have on an employee, including their ability to go back to work after these events. Dr. Gupta will also review the importance of treating patients optimally in order to avoid these events with the goal of preventing disability.

Dr. Milan Gupta, cardiologist, Osler

(This session has been made possible by Amgen.)


11:10 – 11:40 PM
Scratching the surface: Understanding adolescent eczema’s burden on patients and their caregivers
Adolescent eczema is a chronic, inflammatory skin disease with substantial consequences to both patients and caregivers’ wellbeing. Patients bear significant clinical signs and reductions in health-related quality of life, which inevitably impacts the lives of these adolescents’ caregivers – specifically when it comes to workplace productivity. Join Dr. Neil Shear while he discusses the current and evolving treatment landscape of adolescent eczema in Canada. This session will address the disease’s complex nature and how affected caregivers can achieve balance at work.

Dr. Neil Shear, president, Canadian Dermatology Association

(This session has been made possible by Sanofi.)


11:40 AM – 12:25 PM


12:25 – 12:55 PM
The numbers behind chronic disease in the workplace
Chronic disease is a fast-growing burden for society and the economy and is impacting the workplace more than we think, both from a prevalence and cost perspective. This session will explore the impact of chronic disease on private health benefit plans and will highlight areas where employers should focus their efforts in order to ensure a healthy and productive workforce.

Sarah Lussier Hoskyn, senior analyst, regulatory affairs and market access, Innovative Medicines Canada


12:55 – 1:25 PM
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.)


1:25 – 1:55 PM
When blood sugar gets too low… are you prepared to help?
In this interview-style session, a mother shares her experiences of caring for her daughter with Type 1 Diabetes and what it means when blood sugar levels go low. Joined by Dr. Donna Mojdami, the session will focus on the significant physical and emotional challenges of severe hypoglycemia in the diabetes community. Through a moderated Q&A, real-life examples of a severe hypoglycemic event will be discussed with strategies to ensure Canadians are prepared at home and in the workplace.

Lisa Geelen, T1D patient caregiver & Dr. Donna Mojdami, clinical research physician – diabetes

(This session has been made possible by Eli Lilly.)

1:55 – 2:00 PM

Chronic Disease at Work - Speakers

Chronic Disease at Work



Lisa Geelen

Michael Koehn

Lisa Geelen is a management consultant and the proud mother of 12-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy. Lisa’s involvement with diabetes began eight years ago when her daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. At the time of her daughter’s diagnosis, she was shocked at the lack of support and understanding of T1D in schools. Since then, she has been passionate about increasing the awareness and education of T1D in schools. In 2016, Lisa started her own grassroots initiative called “” where she went to local schools, parent groups and day cares to educate them on the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes onset. From there, Lisa continued to create awareness by speaking at Queens Park and at the Ministry of Education articulating some of the challenges T1D children and families face within schools. In 2017, Lisa spearheaded the Diabetes Canada advocacy working group which brought together over twelve different health-care and non-for-profit organizations. This advocacy group collaborated and created a stronger voice which ensured the Ontario policy PPM 161 to ‘support children with diabetes at school’ was developed.  In early 2018, she was part of a working group that created the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) Diabetes Protocol. Lisa’s CoffeesOnMe also partnered with ‘I Challenge Diabetes’ to co-host the first annual Kids in School (KIS) interactive workshop in Toronto. In the spring 2018, Lisa received the Diabetes Canada Inspiration Award for her work in keeping kids in school safe. Currently, Lisa is the Chair of the ‘I Challenge Diabetes Kids in School’ initiative. She continues to make her way to schools (Diabuddies Tour) and parent groups near you to share strategies, support and improve our T1Ds experience at school.


Dr. Milan Gupta

Dr. Milan Gupta

Dr. Milan Gupta is a cardiologist who has been in practice for over 20 years. He is certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in both internal medicine and adult cardiology. He has also been certified by the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology, the Heart Rhythm Society, and the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Gupta received his MD from the University of Toronto, where he then completed his residency in internal medicine and fellowship in cardiology. He runs a busy clinical practice in Brampton, ON ( He is an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, ON, and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto. In addition, he holds the positions of Adjunct Scientist in the Division of CV Surgery and Affiliate Scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. Dr. Gupta is actively engaged in clinical research, physician education, and professional advocacy. He holds a number of research grants and has published over 70 peer-reviewed manuscripts. He also serves on numerous professional advisory boards and guidelines writing committees. He is the Medical Director of the Canadian Cardiovascular Research Network ( and is past Treasurer and Executive Member of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society. He is co-founder and past chair of the Greater Toronto Area Community Cardiologists (GTACC), and past Board Member of the Cardiac Care Network of Ontario. He also chairs the Board of Directors of SANSAR (, a national charity whose mission is to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in South Asians. Dr. Gupta lectures widely on a variety of topics and has a strong interest in developing innovative continuing medical education initiatives. His research interests include ethnicity and heart disease, acute coronary syndromes, atrial fibrillation, and emerging risk factors in vascular disease. He is a recipient of the Dr. Harold Segal Award of Merit (2008) from the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, and in 2014 received the Colin Woolf Award for Excellence in Course Coordination from the University of Toronto.


Michael Koehn

Michael Koehn

Michael Koehn is a duly qualified Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC) registered with the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors (BCACC) since 2010. He attended the University College of the Cariboo (now Thompson Rivers University) where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) degree in 2001. He attended Yorkville University and obtained a Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology (MACP) in 2010. Michael has been counselling with a clinical focus on chronic pain, disability, and injury since 2008. He has previously been accepted as an expert witness for psychology in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. He was a Director and Co-Founder of the Welcome Back MRI and Pain Management Centre from 2008 to 2011. This facility is an interdisciplinary medical assessment and treatment centre featuring a diverse team of medical and paramedical practitioners. Today, he is the founder of The CannSolve Clinic, a specialized rehabilitation facility incorporating medical cannabis and mental health services. His clinical practice provides rehabilitative support to clients suffering from physical and psychological symptoms resulting from disability and injury due to workplace and motor vehicle accidents. Michael has over 20 years of practical experience assisting patients to use medical cannabis to improve symptom management, function, and quality of life. At The CannSolve Clinic, he heads a team of physicians, nurses, and educators specializing in the use of medical cannabis to improve pain management and psychological function of patients with complex health concerns.


Suzanne Lepage

Suzanne Lepage

Suzanne is a private health plan strategist who bridges the pharmaceutical and group benefits industry. Prior to beginning her consulting practice, Suzanne 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 Suzanne worked in group benefits in a wide variety of roles for almost 20 years, which included managing the drug programs for a major Canadian insurer. She is a frequent speaker and contributor to both private market and pharmaceutical industry conferences and publications.



Sarah Lussier Hoskyn

Suzanne Lepage

Sarah Lussier Hoskyn is passionate about sound economic analysis to support policy development in the area of healthcare. She came to Innovative Medicines Canada in 2015 to support the organization and its members with economic analysis and research. She has produced research for external stakeholders on regulatory performance, public reimbursement timelines, private market forecasts and cost drivers, international pricing comparisons, and the drug insurance coverage landscape. Sarah has also carried out internal analyses such as cost-modeling and access disparities to support internal policy positions. Sarah is adept at educating her internal stakeholders on relevant industry trends. Prior to working at IMC, Sarah spent 9 years at IQVIA (previously IMS Health/IMS Brogan/Brogan Inc.) doing health economics and pricing strategy consulting. Sarah has deep knowledge of the PMPRB policy and regulatory framework and gained experience in interpreting clinical data and writing scientific submissions. Sarah graduated from the University of Waterloo with a Master’s in Economics, and from McGill University with a Bachelor’s in Economics. Prior to that, she lived and studied Mandarin in Guangzhou, China for two years.


Dr. David A. Macklin

David A. Macklin

Dr. David A. Macklin is a lecturer at the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine and a University of Toronto trained family physician. David has committed his career to the prevention and treatment of obesity; directing multidisciplinary, evidence-based behavioural weight management programs. He is the Medical Director of the Weight Management Program at the Medcan Clinic. He is also the Medical Director the Weight Management Program at the Toronto Mount Sinai Hospital High Risk/Special Pregnancy BMI unit. He is a Science Committee member at the Canadian Obesity Network (CON). David has co-authored a series of online educational programs, tools and resources through MD Briefcase and international Obesity CME education programs. David is also co-author of the new 2018 Canadian Clinical Practice Guidelines for Weight Management both the behavioural and technology chapters. David is also a co-author of the soon to be published Canadian Action Study.


Dr. Donna Mojdami

David A. Macklin

Dr. Donna Mojdami is a clinical research physician at Eli Lilly Canada.  She is  a practicing endocrinologist working in the field of diabetes and obesity medicine. She completed medical school at McMaster University followed by further training in internal medicine and endocrinology at Western University.






Dr. Neil Shear

Suzanne Lepage

Dr. Neil Shear graduated with a degree in Engineering Science from the University of Toronto and earned his medical degree at McMaster University, Hamilton. Dr. Shear completed training in both internal medicine and dermatology recognized by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the American Boards. He also completed a fellowship in Clinical Pharmacology, supported by the Medical Research Council of Canada, at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Dr. Shear joined the staff of Sunnybrook Hospital in 1984 and is now the Head of Dermatology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and is a Professor of Medicine & Pharmacology at the University of Toronto Medical School. Dr. Shear founded the Drug Safety Clinic at Sunnybrook in 1985 and was the founding chair of the Canadian Adverse Drug Reaction Advisory Committee (CADRAC) of Health Canada.  He is the editor of Litt’s Drug Eruption and Reference Manual. Dr. Shear has conducted numerous clinical trials in dermatology, from first in human early pharmacology studies to large randomized trials of novel therapeutics. Dr. Shear's main interest is in idiosyncratic drug reactions that involve the skin. He has published over 300 peer reviewed papers and numerous chapters and abstracts. His clinical interests are diverse, from rosacea and camouflage makeup to autoimmune blistering diseases. Dr. Shear is President of the Canadian Dermatology Association.  He was a past president of the Canadian Society for Clinical Pharmacology and a recipient of the society's Distinguished Service Award. He is President of the Canadian Dermatology Foundation, and Secretary of the Canadian Hidradenitis Suppurativa Foundation. He was the founding editor of the Canadian Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and has served on the editorial boards of the Archives of Dermatology, Drug Safety, the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, the Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery, and Journal Watch Dermatology. In 2016 Dr. Shear was awarded a “Life Membership” from the Ontario Medical Association in recognition of his contributions to the association and medical care and knowledge; and in 2017 was Practitioner-of-the-year for the Canadian Skin Patient Alliance, and in 2018 Practitioner-of-the-year from the Canadian Dermatology Association.


Dr. Diana Sherifali

Suzanne Lepage

Diana Sherifali, RN, PhD, CDE is an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing and Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact at McMaster University. Diana is also an Associate Scientist at the Population Health Research Institute, and a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Diabetes Care and Research Program at Hamilton Health Sciences. Diana is also the Co-Director of the McMaster Evidence Review and Synthesis Team, that supported the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and more recently Diabetes Canada. Diana has co-author two chapters for the 2013 Diabetes Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines and three chapters for the 2018 guidelines. Diana’s research interests include the implementation and evaluation of strategies for diabetes self-management at the patient, provider and population level. She has been funded by the Diabetes Canada, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.


Dr. Michael Vallis

David A. Macklin

Dr. Vallis is a registered health psychologist based in Halifax, Canada. He is a Health Behaviour Change Consultant and Associate Professor in Family Medicine at Dalhousie University. He obtained his Ph.D. and M.A from the University of Western Ontario, London, and his B. Sc. From Dalhousie University. His main area of expertise is adult health psychology, with an emphasis on obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular risk and gastroenterology. He has worked in the public health system for 35 years, where he developed the Behaviour Change Institute, and is now working as a consultant and doing private practice. He spends most of his time training healthcare providers in behaviour change for chronic disease management. He regularly supervises clinical and academic students at Dalhousie and is active in research on motivation, behavioural change and adaptation to chronic disease.  He consults nationally as well as internationally and is heavily involved in academic publications, journal editing, and clinical practice guidelines. He is on the executive of the Canadian Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Obesity (in preparation) and is an author of the Behavioural Chapter for these new guidelines as well as the 2006 guidelines.  As well, he is an author of the Psychology and Mental Health chapter of Diabetes Canada’s Clinical Practice Guidelines (2018, 2013, 2004). He was recently awarded a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal by the Government of Canada on the recommendation of the Canadian Diabetes Association.

Event Location

The 2019 Chronic Disease at Work conference will take place at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel.

Visit the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel website for more information

123 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5H 2M9

Sheraton Centre Toronto


With further inquiries about event logistics, please contact Joanne Merrick, event manager.

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