Past Event: Mental Health Summit Toronto

November 07, 2017
One King West Hotel, Toronto

The 2017 Mental Health Summit, Toronto

Mind your business: keeping a close eye on mental health in the workplace

According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, mental health issues typically account for just under one-third of disability claims. In fact, more than 80 per cent of Canadian employers rate mental health illness as one of the top drivers for short- and long-term disability claims. Together, organizations have lost over $6 billion in productivity costs due to absenteeism and presenteeism from mental health concerns. What steps can plan sponsors take to minimize these financial losses? How can current plans be updated to include/enhance coverage for mental health concerns for the employee or the caregiver? Come to this year’s Mental Health Summit to discover ideas on how to approach mental health in the workplace.

This is a full-morning conference. The 2017 Mental Health Summit, Toronto, will cost $149.00 plus tax.

Who Should Attend?

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

Looking for the Vancouver Mental Health Summit?




Francesca Allman

Sara Ametrano
Joanne Boccia

Join the conversation! @BenCanMag #MentalHealth17


Mental Health Summit, Toronto

November 7, 2017
One King West Hotel

7:15 - 8:10 a.m.
Breakfast and Registration

8:10 - 8:15 a.m. 
Opening Remarks

8:15 - 8:45 a.m.
Session one
Sleep disorders: Why they should be keeping plan sponsors awake at night
Over 40% of adults suffer from sleep issues, and many go undiagnosed. They have a serious impact on employees’ mental and physical health. The cost in lost productivity is astronomical for businesses. How can managers address this issue in their workplaces?

This session will whisk you through some hard to believe and even frightening facts about sleep disorders. It will present do-it-yourself preventive programs, as well as a new intervention program. The presentation will also reveal the results of a sleep health pilot project that took place earlier this year.

Josée Dixon, senior vice-president of group and business insurance, Desjardins Insurance 
Bradley Smith, president and founder, HALEO Preventive Health Solutions Inc. 

[Download the Presentation]

8:45 - 9:15 a.m. 
Session two
Disability management: The effective collaboration between insurers and healthcare professionals
Mental health accounts for over 30% of long-term disability claims. Employers are looking to their insurers and employee healthcare providers to ensure their employees get the care they need and facilitate a supportive and successful return to work transition. This session will discuss the roles of key stakeholders and how they can effectively work together to enable recovery, accommodation and return to work.


Samuel F. Mikail, senior consultant of mental health, group benefits, central region, Sun Life Financial

[Download the Presentation]

9:15 - 9:45 a.m. 
Session three
Financial issues and the impact on mental health
Recent research from Manulife shows finances are intricately woven into people’s lives and problems. The study asked professional personal counsellors their opinion about the impact finances have on their clients’ wellbeing. Overcoming financial challenges goes beyond balancing a chequebook and reviewing a budget; it’s also about dealing with the feeling of being financially unwell and the direct impact on one’s mental health. This session highlights ways employers can help their employees bring their best to work.


Eric Pfeiffer, senior health management consultant, wellness, disability and life, Manulife

[Download the Presentation]

9:45 - 10:15 a.m. 
Session four
Early optimized treatment in depression: A paradigm change for rapid, impactful recovery statements
This session will highlight the importance of very rapidly treating major depressive disorder (MDD) with the best appropriate and tolerable treatment (or early optimized treatment) to ensure quick and successful recoveries. MDD is a medical condition that requires urgent treatment, including rapid treatment and follow-ups, which are essential to helping ensure a full recovery. The presentation will discuss why early optimized treatment and full functional recovery should be the goal for every person suffering from MDD.

Dr. Jeffrey Habert,
assistant professor in the department of family and community medicine, University of Toronto

(This session has been made possible by Pfizer Canada)

[Download the Presentation]

10:15 – 10:45 a.m.
Networking Break

10:45 - 11:30 a.m. 
Session five
Reinventing support for Canadians suffering from mental health illnesses
Canadians with mental illness often encounter challenges when seeking treatment, including receiving frequent misdiagnosis of their illness, suffering from ineffective treatment pathway and identifying the right providers. This session will feature a case study showcasing the steps two companies have taken to improve the process for plan members, from start to finish, in order to help them get well and back on their feet faster. 


Julie Gaudry, senior director of group & business markets, RBC Insurance
Eric Glazer,
vice-president of innovation, Best Doctors
Sylvain Roy,
president, Ontario Psychological Association

Download the Presentation]

11:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. 
Session six
Overcoming depression: Getting back to work, life and love
Many people are not aware of the common symptoms of depression, beyond feelings of sadness. Depression should be viewed as a medical illness which frequently co-occurs with physical illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease. Preventing chronic illness is the most important treatment goal, which is most likely achieved through early, fully optimized treatment. Depression, especially if it becomes chronic, commonly results in functional impairment, including work absenteeism and presenteeism.


Dr. Diane McIntosh, clinical assistant professor, University of British Columbia

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

[Download the Presentation]

12:00 - 12:30 p.m. 
Session seven
The virtual kitchen table approach to de-stigmatizing post traumatic stress disorder
When there is a virus, a sickness, any threat to your health you should want to prevent, manage and eradicate it. We take every precaution to prevent physical exposure to all types of hazards, and should we feel an oncoming cold or infection, we seldom hesitate to seek medical attention, while also being careful not to expose our families and friends to the bug. We don’t hesitate to talk about it with our co-workers to protect them. Unfortunately, all too often, we aren’t as quick to tell others when we are not mentally well. With no physical signs, illness or injury caused by exposure to trauma can often go undetected by family and co-workers. How do we change the culture within the workforce? How can we let our peers feel free to speak about their feelings? This session will explore solutions, such as “kitchen-table” conversations, to minimize the stigma of mental illness in the workplace.

Andy MacDonald, consultant, first responder community, Homewood Health

[Download the Presentation]

12:30 p.m. 
Closing Remarks


Josée Dixon

Josée Dixon has been the senior vice-president of group and business insurance for Desjardins Group since September 2014. She has more than 25 years of experience in the group insurance industry. Dixon has been with Desjardins Group since July 2013, holding the position of vice-president of business development for group and business insurance prior to her current role. As senior vice-president of group and business insurance, Dixon contributes to the development and expansion of Desjardins’ group and business insurance line of business across Canada. Dixon holds a bachelor’s degree in commerce, with a specialization in marketing and finance. She is also the recipient of a number of certifications and awards in the group insurance industry.

Julie Gaudry

Julie Gaudry is the senior director of group and business markets at RBC Insurance, where she leads a team with overall responsibility for the product development and strategic direction for the group benefit solutions sector. With a focus on innovation and thought-leadership, the team is committed to product and service enhancements that make it easier for RBC Insurance’s clients to lead a healthy lifestyle, manage their benefits programs and return to health if faced with a serious medical condition. 

Prior to joining RBC Insurance in 2014, Gaudry spent eight years in human resources at RBC. In this role, she was responsible for the design, financial management and communication of the benefits and wellness programs and the financial education and planning strategy for RBC employees and retirees in Canada. Before joining RBC, she was practicing as a doctor of chiropractic for five years in the Greater Toronto Area, where, as a core part of her patient care, she was an advocate for healthy living, encouraging her patients to make healthy lifestyle choices. 

Gaudry holds a bachelor of kinesiology from McMaster University and a doctor of chiropractic diploma from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College.

Outside of work, Gaudry enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, is an avid volunteer for youth sports and is a five-time marathoner who continues to love running for both the physical and mental health benefits. While she and her family lead an active lifestyle, they also really enjoy unwinding on their family camping trips or vacationing to sunny beach destinations.

Eric Glazer

Eric Glazer is the vice-president of innovation at Best Doctors, where for over the past six years he has been charged with creating new products and services. In his most recent role, Glazer developed, and now currently oversees, Onward by Best Doctors™, a novel, telemental health service that supports patients suffering from depression and anxiety who are also on short- or long-term disability. In this role, he works closely with leading practitioners and insurance executives throughout the country to provide patients and their general practitioners with expert insights, recommendations and coping skills. 

Throughout his two-decade career, Glazer has been producing leading new services, educational programming and thought-leadership events in healthcare, in addition to launching various digital products to support clinician engagement. 

Glazer holds a bachelor of science and a master of business administration in healthcare from Union College in Schenectady, New York, and he sits on the board of directors at the Population Health Executive Roundtable and was formerly on the board at the Society for Participatory Medicine.

Dr. Jeffrey Habert

Dr. Jeffrey Habert is an assistant professor in the department of family and community medicine at the University of Toronto, and has practiced as a family physician in Thornhill for the last 28 years. Dr. Habert is also a peer assessor for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, investigating coroner for the City of Toronto and a peer leader at OntarioMD.

Dr. Habert has an interest in the use of clinical practice guidelines and has participated on committees to establish guidelines in the areas of depression, stroke and thrombosis. He has recently served on the committee for the 2016-2017 Canadian stroke prevention guidelines and is the co-chair of the Thrombosis Canada guidelines committee. Dr. Habert is also on the 2017 Canadian Stroke Congress planning committee.

Dr. Habert is very involved in the continuing education of family physicians in the areas of thrombosis/stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis and depression. He has served on numerous planning committees as a member and chairman for the creation of accredited continuing medical education programs. He has also lectured provincially and nationally on these topics.

Dr. Habert is published in the areas of thrombosis and stroke prevention, depression, ADHD and electronic medical records use in family practice.

Andy MacDonald

Andy MacDonald is the advisor to the first responder community for Homewood Health. He has four decades of experience serving in the field of emergency services. He began his journey, as a volunteer firefighter, immediately after graduating from McMaster University in 1977.  After becoming a professional firefighter in 1979, he progressed through the ranks and served as fire chief in the City of Brampton for seven years. MacDonald capped off his career in public service in the City of Guelph, where he was the general manager of emergency services. In that role, MacDonald provided oversight of the Guelph/Wellington Paramedic Services and the Guelph Fire Department. 

With over 20 years of service as a frontline first responder, MacDonald personally witnessed the psychological impacts of responding to trauma. As an emergency services chief officer, he also saw the effects of trauma-induced stress on his peers, co-workers and the citizens he served. That exposure prompted MacDonald to implement changes in the workplace to help mitigate those effects. His support of Brampton’s and Guelph’s Peer Support Networks earned him a reputation as a “chief that cares.”

His life working in that community has provided him with the insight, knowledge and connections to effectively aid in “getting the message out” that there is help available. He is committed to helping create psychologically safe and healthy workplaces for first responders.

MacDonald spends much of his remaining free time aiding in other causes. He is a founding member of the Camp FACES advisory board and is a passionate supporter of the organization’s great work. He was also the driving force behind the construction of his dream project, the world's first fire/life safety education centre in Brampton. Additionally, MacDonald’s charitable exploits include rappelling off the CN Tower in 1985, to raise money for a Toronto burn unit. That earned him a spot in the Guinness Book of Records at the time.


Dr. Diane McIntosh

Dr. Diane McIntosh is a clinical assistant professor at the University of British Columbia. She graduated from Dalhousie University, where she completed an undergraduate degree in pharmacy before completing her medical school training, two years of a pediatric residency and then an adult psychiatry residency. As a doctor of medicine, Dr. McIntosh also has a busy private practice and is extensively involved in continuing medical education programs to colleagues nationally and internationally, with a focus on rational pharmacology. She is particularly interested in the neurobiology of mood and anxiety disorders. As a researcher, Dr. McIntosh has been a principle or sub-investigator in phase II-IV trials, both industry sponsored and investigator initiated, and she is the author of numerous clinical and research papers. She sits on the board of directors of the Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) and advisory board for the Canadian ADHD Research Association (CADDRA). She has recently published blogs in the Huffington Post, focusing on mental health issues. Dr. McIntosh is also a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada (FRCPC).

Samuel Mikail

Samuel Mikail is the senior consultant of mental health for group benefits and Sun Life Financial. He is board certified in clinical psychology with the American Board of Professional Psychology and is a registered clinical psychologist in the province of Ontario. Over the course of his 30-year career, Mikail has been an active clinician, researcher, consultant and educator of health professionals. His clinical work and research have included a focus on mental health, health psychology, rehabilitation and spirituality. Mikail has served on the boards of several professional associations and is currently a member of the board of directors of the Canadian Psychological Association, where he recently completed a term as practice leader and chair of professional affairs and is current president elect of the association. He continues to maintain a part-time private practice in Newmarket, Ontario, and holds an appointment as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Waterloo, where he is engaged in clinical training of senior graduate students.   

Eri Pfeiffer

Eric Pfeiffer has been a senior health management consultant for the past eight years. He has a bachelor of science degree in kinesiology from the University of Waterloo with a focus on work and sport injury. He has worked in the group benefits industry for over 20 years in both disability and absence management, and organizational wellness. In his current role, Pfeiffer works with group benefit clients of all sizes, guiding them with the strategy, design and implementation of their wellness programs. His background allows him to successfully integrate effective prevention and wellness programs in coordination with the absence management process. Pfeiffer frequently presents on various wellness related topics at conferences.

Sylvain Roy

Sylvain Roy is a neuropsychologist and the president of the Ontario Psychological Association. He is a mental health disability expert who’s practice focuses on the assessment, diagnosis and rehabilitation of those with neurocognitive impairment. Roy specializes in brain injury, neurodevelopmental disorders and dementia, as well as other severe and persistent mental illnesses. He is the lead clinician of Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s psychosocial rehabilitation assessment service and works exclusively with homeless persons at Inner City Family Health Team. He is also an adjunct professor at York University.

Bradley Smith

Bradley Smith worked for over 10 years in Canada and in France as a marketing director for leading pharmaceutical and cosmetics brands before launching a new venture in Montreal in 2015 to develop innovative and accessible preventive health solutions. His company, HALEO Preventive Health Solutions Inc., helps employers improve organizational health and performance by increasing employee access to treatment for sleep disorders. In partnership with Desjardins Insurance and the Sleep Health Institute of the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, HALEO recently launched its innovative Healthy Sleep Program, which has already helped hundreds of employees to screen, diagnose and treat insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea. Smith also holds an MBA from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

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

One King West Hotel

The Mental Health Summit, Toronto, will be held in the stunning Grand Banking Hall, located on the second floor of the luxury One King West Hotel and Residence.

One King West Hotel and Residence

Getting there:

The hotel is located in downtown Toronto on the northwest corner of Yonge Street and King Street. It is directly across the street from King West subway station, which is also accessible via an indoor path.

On-site valet parking is available, via the Melinda Street entrance, on a first-come, first served basis.

Valet parking rates:

  • $45.00 overnight (with in/out privileges), valid until check out time (11 AM).
  • $35.00 3-hour visitor rate. 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM. No in/ out privileges. Maximum of 3 hours. $5 each additional hour. Overnight rate applies after 7:00 PM.

Self-parking is available on Wellignton Street, just walking distance to One King West.


Francesca Allman

Sara Ametrano
Joanne Boccia