Past Event: Chronic Disease at Work

June 19, 2018
Toronto Region Board of Trade

Unmasking Chronic Disease
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 full-morning conference will include 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

Sara Ametrano
Anya Baker

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Chronic Disease at Work

8:00 - 8:55 a.m. 
Breakfast and registration

8:55 - 9:00 a.m.
Opening remarks

9:00 - 9:30 a.m.

Session one
The burden of Migraines

Migraine has been a neglected neurological disease that extends far beyond the pain patients experience. It is a long-term disease that affects all aspects of patients' lives over many years. For the first time in a decade, new research and classes of medications are coming to market, offering new hope for migraine sufferers. This session will explore the burden of migraine for Canadian patients, employees, and employers and how we can reduce its impact in the workplace.

Dr. Christine Lay, division head, division of neurology, Women's College Hospital

(This session has been made possible by Novartis Canada.)

9:30 - 10:00 a.m.
Session two
A 38-Year Journey with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Hear from Jeff Aarssen as he describes his 38-year walk with rheumatoid arthritis from a patient perspective. Jeff will describe the ups and downs he experienced along the way and will outline the various progressive drug therapies that led him to attaining a strong remission with the help of biologic therapy. Jeff will provide a lifetime of perspective about the attitude, resilience and hope that is required to stay in the fight.

Jeff Aarssen,
senior vice-president, sales, group customer division, The Great-West Life Assurance Co.

(This session has been made possible by Amgen.)

[Download Jeff's Presentation]

10:00 - 10:30 a.m.
Session three
Cancer as a chronic illness: Changing expectations and misconceptions in the workplace
Cancer is considered a chronic illness in the medical community, even for advanced cases of cancer or cancers previously considered untreatable. This presentation will focus on the patient's experience when faced with the chronic phase of the cancer diagnosis as well as considerations for returning to the workplace, a synopsis of recent advances in treatment and supporting research data.

Dina Linardos, nursing director, CAREpath

[Download Dina's Presentation]

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

11:00 - 11:30 a.m.
Session four
Diabetes coaching: What are the opportunities, evidence and impact?

With the ever-increasing prevalence, burden and costs associated with type 2 diabetes management, a new model for timely and ongoing diabetes self-management support emerges as a potential solution—diabetes coaching. Diabetes coaching is an increasingly effective intervention to improve clinical health outcomes and quality of life, as well as healthcare utilization and adherence to evidence-based practices. This presentation will review the current context of coaching and the evidence and opportunities for coaching in diabetes care.

Diana Sherifali, associate faculty, department of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact, School of Nursing, McMaster University

(This session has been made possible by Shoppers Drug Mart.)

[Download Diana's Presentation]

11:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Session five
Medical cannabis: What do employers need to know?
During this session, Dr. Peter Blecher will provide an overview of the history, safety and therapeutic uses of cannabis for medical purposes. This presentation will also explore some of the risks and side effects associated with cannabis use, as well as options organizations should consider in developing a responsible and balanced approach to a medical cannabis benefits strategy.

Dr. Peter Blecher, Chief Medical Officer, Starseed Medicinal Inc.

[Download Dr. Blecher's Presentation]

12:00 p.m.
Closing remarks

Chronic Disease at Work

Chronic Disease at Work - Speakers CONFERENCE SPEAKERS

Jeff Aarssen

Jeff Aarssen

Jeff Aarssen is the senior vice-president of sales for the group customer division of The Great-West Life Assurance Co. and its subsidiaries, London Life and Canada Life. Since joining London Life in 1980 as a group sales representative, Aarssen has held various roles including, vice-president of group sales, regional vice-president of individual sales, vice-president of the distribution division for Freedom 55 Financial and senior vice-president of GRS, Wealth Management. Aarssen is involved with several charities and organizations, both within the industry and the community. He is an advocate of the Arthritis Society, is honorary chair of Hockey Helps the Homeless for London and area, has served as vice-chair of the executive board of Huron University College and frequently speaks to audiences all over Canada about leadership, strategy and success. Aarssen received a bachelor of arts degree with a major in economics from the University of Western Ontario.



Dr. Peter Blecher

Dr. Peter Blecher

Dr. Peter Blecher is the chief medical officer at Starseed Medicinal Inc. He is a graduate of McGill Medical School and completed a comprehensive surgical internship at the University of Toronto. Dr. Blecher worked as an ER physician for 25 years, while being involved in the start-up of several biotechnology, medical device and private enterprise companies. He currently sits on the board of Microbix Biosystems, Inc. Since 205, he has been with CPM Centres for Pain Management, Canada’s largest network of integrated pain management centres, currently with nine clinics, where he is a medical director. Dr. Blecher is a credentialed pain practitioner with both the American and Canadian Academies of Pain Medicine. He has presented workshops and seminars on the topic of chronic pain management to health care professionals across Canada and internationally, including educational workshops on medical cannabis. Dr. Blecher helped develop the early educational material for the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids – widely recognized as the global leader in physician-centered medical cannabis education.



Dr. Christine Lay

Dr. Christine Lay

Dr. Christine Lay is the founding director of the Centre for Headache at the University of Toronto, and she is also an associate professor of neurology. She completed her residency at Mayo Clinic and her headache fellowship at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. In addition to building the headache program at the University of Toronto and a very busy patient practice, she is actively involved in research and teaching.




Dina Linardos

Dina Linardos

Dina Linardos is the nursing director at CAREpath. In this role, she is focused on the development of new programs and nurse-led initiatives that will enhance the cancer care experience for patients from early diagnosis to survivorship. Linardos obtained a bachelor of science in nursing from the nursing program at McGill University and is a certified oncology nurse through the Canadian Nurses Association. From the beginning of her nursing career, she has been dedicated to providing care to cancer patients, working at Jewish General Hospital in Montreal as a staff nurse, oncology nurse clinician and nursing manager for the out patient cancer clinics. During her years in clinical practice, Linardos provided mentorship to novice cancer care nurses and oversaw clinical internship for nursing students. 



Diana Sherifali

Diana Sherifali

Diana Sherifali is associate faculty in department of health research methods, evidence and impact at McMaster University's School of Nursing. She is also an associate scientist at the Population Health Research Institute and co-director of the McMaster Evidence Review and Synthesis Centre. Over the last several years, Sherifali has led multiple evidence reviews that helped shape policy for Diabetes Canada, Canadian Obesity Network and the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care. Sherifali is also a clinical nurse specialist in the diabetes care and research program at Hamilton Health Sciences and the co-director of the Health Coach Institute at York University. Sherifali’s research interests include the implementation and evaluation of strategies to support diabetes self-management at the patient, provider and population level, including diabetes coaching. 



More speakers to be posted shortly.

For information on the conference, please contact Sara Ametrano, Conference Editor, Benefits Canada

Event Details

Toronto Region Board of Trade
77 Adelaide Street West, Toronto, Ontario

Toronto Region Board of Trade
In the heart of Toronto's financial district, the Toronto Region Board of Trade, boasts modern design and unparalleled service. The beautifully renovated space, located inside the First Canadian Place, provides exquisite views of the city's Art Deco architecture. With cuisine prepared by the accaimled Oliver & Bonacini, the Toronto Region Board of Trade is the premier choice for any event, from an intimate business meeting to a grand celebration.

Toronto Region Board of Trade

Getting there:

By public transit:

• Take the subway to St. Andrew, King or Union Station, then follow the overhead PATH signs. 
• You can also arrive by the King Street streetcar (504 King) or the Bay Street bus (6 Bay). 

By car:

• Drive to Bay, King, Adelaide or York streets. Please note Adelaide is one-way east and York is one-way north.

By underground PATH:

• PATH connects through multiple subway stations, the GO Transit and VIA Rail transportation networks. Follow the directory maps posted in these locations, keeping your eye on the overhead signs.


Valet Parking:
• Complimentary ValetAssist parking available on level A Monday - Friday, 9:30 AM - 3:30 PM

Self -Parking:
• Accessible from Adelaide and York Streets 24/7
• Daily tenant and visitor stalls on all levels
• Accessible entry on level F

20 minutes or less (6 AM - 6 PM) - $5
Weekday daily maximum (6 AM - 6 PM) - $30
Evening flat rate (6 AM- 6 PM) - $10
Lost ticket pays maximum - $40
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

Sara Ametrano
Anya Baker

Conference coverage

Find all the coverage of Chronic Disease at Work 2018