December 9, 2020


Read coverage from the 2019 event

The Face to Face Drug Plan Management Forum is the industry’s most popular drug benefits conference. This year, Benefits Canada welcomes you to the 2020 edition — in a new, virtual format.

Should I attend?
If you’re an employer responsible for your organization’s drug plan, benefits, wellness, human resources and/or corporate health – or an industry provider such as a broker, benefits consultant, advisor and/or group insurer – then this virtual forum is where you want to be.   

CE credits will be offered to all participants who require them and have indicated this on the registration form. Please be aware that you must attend and watch the full conference in order to be eligible to receive CE credits and your certificate of attendance.


Francesca Allman

Cassandra Williamson-Hopp
Katerina Galkina


Join the conversation @BenCanMag




December 9, 2020

11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Prior authorization – Best practices
Prior authorization can be a useful tool to ensure drug treatments are used effectively and drug plan costs remain sustainable; however, not all prior authorization programs are created equal. This session will provide an overview of prior authorization programs and recommend best practices.

Suzanne Lepage, private health plan strategist

(This session has been made possible by Alexion Pharmaceuticals and Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Canada)

[Download Suzanne's presentation.]


12:00 – 12:30 p.m.
ePA: Applying lessons learned from abroad to a Canadian model
In the U.S., electronic prior authorization has been around for more than a decade. Similar to the U.S. solution, the Canadian version of this technology promises to improve overall timeliness and efficiency. Plan members benefit as they receive quicker decisions on speciality medicines from insurers, which allows them to embark on a faster journey to health and wellness. This session will discuss some key differences between various ePA options in the U.S. and around the world, as well as explain the requirements that contribute to an effective ePA in Canada and how plan sponsors can benefit from simplified administration without compromising effective drug plan management.

Jason Kennedy, director, health business consulting, TELUS Health
Tara Liu, director, drug strategy, Canada Life

[Download Jason and Tara's presentation.]


12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Canadian drug policy issues: Impact on private drug plan management
This session will break down current Canadian health-care policy issues and explain how they may impact private drug plans. Health technology assessment determines the value of medications, using health economics to measure cost versus effectiveness. Although Canadian public payers assess drugs using HTA, their methodology may not be a suitable proxy for private plans that place more value on workplace productivity. First, Dr. Nina Lathia will provide an overview of HTA and recommend best practices for assessing medications through a private payer lens. And Wayne Critchley will discuss the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board and its new guidelines. While these are intended to lower drug prices, some could have unintended consequences that will impact private drug plans’ access to new treatments needed to keep their plan members healthy and productive at work.

Dr. Nina Lathia, pharmacist and health economist
Wayne Critchley, senior associate, health and life sciences, Global Public Affairs

(This session has been made possible by Amgen Canada and Innovative Medicines Canada)

[Download Nina and Wayne's presentation.]


1:30 – 1:45 p.m.


1:45 – 2:15 p.m.
Rethinking our approach to treating obesity
Obesity treatments have traditionally been categorized as lifestyle drugs that are often excluded from drug plans; however, obesity is as a complex chronic condition that requires evidence-based treatment, similar to other chronic diseases. The new Canadian obesity clinical practice guidelines provide objective science-based evidence that can help guide plan sponsors on the current best practices for treating obesity and inform drug benefits plan design choices. This session will provide more information about how plan sponsors can align their health benefits programs and best support their employees living with obesity.

Noel Mackay, principal consultant, Cowan Insurance Group
Dr. Sean Wharton, medical director, Wharton Medical Clinic

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

[Download Sean and Noel's presentation.]


2:15 – 2:45 p.m.
Managing diabetes: An investment in plan member health
Diabetes is one of the top chronic diseases in the workplace, potentially driving multiple comorbidities. Employers can support plan members living with diabetes by providing them with access to tools that support more effective glucose monitoring, which may lead to lower drug plan costs, improved adherence and better overall health. In this session, Dr. Bruce Perkins will describe how flash glucose monitoring is a valuable tool to manage diabetes and its complications.

Dr. Bruce Perkins, professor, division of endocrinology and metabolism/Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto

(This session has been made possible by Abbott)

[This session is not available for download.]


2:45 – 3:15 p.m.
The future of pharmacy benefits management in Canada
This one-on-one interview with industry veteran Mark Rolnick will examine current pharmacy benefits issues and discuss how they might impact private drug plans. Attendees will learn what plan sponsors and advisors should be thinking about in relation to their drug plans.

Mark Rolnick, executive vice-president, pharmacy innovation and patient experience, Green Shield Canada

Suzanne Lepage, private health plan strategist

[This session is not available for download.]



December 9, 2020




Wayne Critchley

Derek Weir

Wayne Critchley is a senior associate with Global Public Affairs’ health and life sciences practice, providing counsel to leading biopharmaceutical and medical device corporations and associations along with other health policy stakeholders. Critchley has a long track record of success as a senior executive with more than 20 years of experience in government departments, boards and agencies, dealing primarily with issues that impact the pharmaceutical sector. He served as executive director of the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board from 1990 to 2005 and as a vice-president of the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health in 2009. From 2007 to 2009, he was a partner in one of Canada’s leading law firms. Critchley is widely recognized as an expert in pharmaceutical pricing, reimbursement and market access and is regularly called upon to write and present on Canadian pharmaceutical issues. He served as chair of the Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders from 2015 to 2019 and currently serves on the board of directors of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. He’s also active with the Canadian Club of Ottawa and served as president from 2012 to 2013.


Jason Kennedy

Derek Weir

Jason Kennedy is a licensed pharmacist in the province of Ontario and received his pharmacy degree in 2004 from the University of Alberta. He joined TELUS Health in 2009 as a clinical pharmacist, where he assisted in program and formulary creation and maintenance. Working with the organization's formulary team, he participated in new drug and clinical review activities. In 2010, he moved to the sales team where he worked closely with carriers to deliver strategic programs for plan sponsors. In 2014, Kennedy moved into the role of director of operations, overseeing operations and client support for non Quebec-based plan sponsor clients. In late 2019, he assumed a new role as director of health business consulting. Kennedy leads TELUS Health’s clinical team and oversees strategy and innovation within the drug benefits space. He continues to practice pharmacy in the community setting.


Dr. Nina Lathia

Derek Weir

Dr. Nina Lathia is a pharmacist and health economist with more than a decade of Canadian and international health technology assessment experience. She has worked in many capacities as a health economist, including in academia as a lecturer at the University of Toronto, in the public sector as a senior technical advisor at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in the U.K. and as a Toronto­‐based consultant to pharmaceutical companies and private drug formulary decision-makers. Dr. Lathia’s work has been published in a number of high‐impact, peer­‐reviewed journals. She's interested in helping reimbursement professionals apply the principles of health economics to improve health outcomes for their populations while simultaneously allocating resources in the most efficient way possible.


Suzanne Lepage

Derek Weir

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 health care with the pharmaceutical company Roche Canada. During that time, she developed and executed private health-care strategies and managed a patient assistance program for biologic medications. Prior to joining the pharmaceutical industry, Lepage worked in a wide variety of group benefits roles for almost 20 years, which included managing the drug programs for a major Canadian insurer. She's a frequent speaker and contributor to both private market and pharmaceutical industry conferences and publications.




Tara Liu

Derek Weir

Tara Liu is director of drug strategy at Canada Life. In her role, Liu provides guidance in the execution of strategy to provide cost-containment solutions while promoting optimum health outcomes. She’s a licensed practicing pharmacist who leads a team of pharmacists overseeing prior authorization criteria development, complex case reviews and SMART drug plan assessments. Liu’s clinical expertise and practical pharmacy experience help Canada Life develop and maintain dynamic drug product offerings. Prior to joining Canada Life, Liu worked as a community pharmacist.




Noel MacKay

Derek Weir

With more than 30 years of employee benefits experience in a variety of roles, Noel MacKay joined Cowan Insurance Group in 2000. His commitment to excellence has earned him the respect and confidence of his peer group and enabled him to efficiently lead strategic projects and initiatives for the organization’s plan sponsor clients. MacKay has extensive experience as a lead consultant, managing complex plan transitions and marketing for private, public and not-for-profit clients. Well-versed in renewal and union negotiations, he also has expert knowledge of carrier change projects, contract provisions and administrative process reviews, as well as a background in financial underwriting. An active contributor to in-house publications and client presentations, MacKay has been featured in industry events and publications, including LIMRA, the Conference Board of Canada, Benefits Breakfast Club, Crosslinks Advisor Forums, Benefits Canada and Benefits and Pension Monitor. His passion for challenging his teammates and clients to question their benefits plan status quo is as strong as his drive to educate and share his knowledge. MacKay is a certified employee benefits specialist through the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans and Dalhousie University, in addition to a long-standing course instructor for the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans in both Canada and the U.S.


Dr. Bruce Perkins

Derek Weir

Dr. Bruce Perkins is a professor of medicine in the division of endocrinology and metabolism, as well as the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto. He obtained his MD and internal medicine training at the University of Toronto, his endocrinology subspecialty training at Harvard University, his masters of public health in epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and a research fellowship in epidemiology at the Joslin Diabetes Center.





Mark Rolnick

Derek Weir

In line with Green Shield Canada’s vision, Mark Rolnick is highly skilled at identifying emerging clinical and business challenges and turning them into opportunities to develop unique pharmacy and patient-care solutions that promote the health and well-being of plan members and Canadians overall. As a result, Rolnick’s strategic and operational leadership ensures GSC customers benefit from relevant and proactive pharmacy, formulary and drug claims strategies that strengthen long-term satisfaction. As a seasoned innovator, his diverse background spans clinical services, pharmaceutical industry and insurance roles.




Dr. Sean Wharton

Derek Weir

With a doctorate in pharmacy and medicine, Dr. Sean Wharton is medical director of the Wharton Medical Clinic, a community based internal medicine weight management and diabetes clinic. He's also an adjunct professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. and York University in Toronto and works as an internist at Toronto East General Hospital and Hamilton Health Sciences. Dr. Wharton is a researcher and qualified as a diplomat of the American Board of Obesity Medicine. His research focuses on bariatric medicine and type 2 diabetes. He's the lead author of the weight management section of the 2013 and 2018 Canadian Diabetes Guidelines and co-chair of the 2020 Canadian Obesity Guidelines.



December 9, 2020


What to expect from the virtual event platform

The virtual Face to Face event platform will allow you to explore different sections of the venue just like you would at an in-person event. The virtual venue has sections where you can view and download conference resources, read up on speakers and learn more about their sessions, gather more information about the companies that made this event possible, consult the agenda to ensure you don’t miss any of the presentations and ask questions in real-time during the live stream.


Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Is this event free?
A: Yes, this event is free.

Q: Do I have to download any software to be able to watch this event?
A: No, the platform is web-based and it can be accessed from most devices.

Q: Which browser is most compatible with the platform?
A: We recommend using Google Chrome.

Q: How do I access the virtual event platform?
A: We will send you a link to the Face to Face virtual event platform a few days before the event goes live.


Please make sure to access the platform using the same email address with which you registered, otherwise you won't be able to enter.

Important: we will be sending regular email reminders leading up to the event date(s). Please be aware that your registration is non-transferable. If you have any questions, please contact Katerina Galkina at katerina.galkina@tc.tc