Plan member point of view employee experiences and insights

Derek Clark

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is common and usually mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic, but it can be life-threatening for people with suppressed immune systems.

CMV is a known post-transplant risk, … [but] the treatment plan wasn’t working.”

Alopecia areata

Anthony Gilding has alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss. He describes the impacts on his life and career, and suggests how employers can help.

Be cognizant of the potential mental-health impacts of this condition.

Generalized pustular psoriasis

Generalized pustular psoriasis (GPP) is a rare dermatological condition that causes painful, itchy pustules to spread across large areas of the body. Flares can be life-threatening.

When my GPP flares up, it’s nuclear … [and] nobody expects you to miss an entire month of work because of a rash.

Ulcerative colitis

IBD, which includes both UC and Crohn’s disease (CD), affects more than 230,000 people in Canada. Every year more than 4,500 new cases of UC are diagnosed. Gene Yoo was one of those new cases in 2017.

Something employers should keep in mind is that when someone is able to manage their condition well and not have as many flares, they’re happier and healthier

Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging and can affect people during their working lives. Geoffrey explains how struggles in his job started him on the path to diagnosis with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease

I relied on continual help from colleagues … and I spent hours in the evenings trying to catch up… it was a lonely experience, doing my very best but always falling behind.


Migraine is the leading cause of disability among adults under 50. Émilie Bortolussi-Courval describes what it’s like to live with migraine and how employers can help.

Émilie Bortolussi-Courval

When an employee is comfortable sharing their condition, ask how you can best support them and minimize their triggers.

Alopecia areata

Marcy Gallant has been educating Canadians about alopecia areata as an online advocate. She wants plan sponsors to know that alopecia looks different for everyone, and that it can affect anyone — men, women and children — at any point in their lives.
Marcy Gallant

The best thing employers can do is educate themselves. I don’t mind explaining it when people ask, but many others aren’t comfortable being asked about it.

Type 2 Diabetes

Kerry Rasmussen wishes plan sponsors would look beyond the price tag and consider the cost to employees in time, productivity and pride when they can’t access their optimal medication.

If that medication had been available to me immediately after my diagnosis, just think how much longer I could have been healthier.

Atopic Dermatitis

A 2016 survey estimated that 3.5 per cent of Canadian adults experience atopic dermatitis (AD). Adults who have moderate to severe AD can experience symptoms that may affect sleep, mental health, quality of life and productivity. 1 Amanda is one of them. For her, AD is not “just a rash.” It’s a chronic skin condition that, when she’s in a “flare,” is agonizingly painful and makes it difficult to participate in social activities and to concentrate at work.
Atopic Dermatitis - POV

During my most recent flare, the dermatologist said, ‘You can’t go to work like this,’ and she wrote me a doctor’s note without me having to ask.

Atopic Dermatitis

Tanya Mohan wants employers to know that atopic dermatitis (AD), more commonly known as eczema, isn’t “just a skin thing.” People with moderate to severe AD may need work-from-home and other accommodations, as well as access to sometimes costly medications that relieve their symptoms.
Atopic Dermatitis - POV

Employers need to know how AD can affect your ability to concentrate, to write, to do all the things we need to do to succeed at our jobs.

Canadians with Episodic Cluster Headache

Four plan members in their own powerful words explain episodic cluster headache - a devastating primary headache disorder - and the drilling pain that gives it the nickname “suicide headache.” One female and three males ranging in age from 27 to 53 from Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador describe the impact it has had on each of them.
Episodic CLuster Headache

It’s like I live in a glass prison and others can’t see what I’m going through. I’m oppressed by it.

Anne Pertus

Organizational transformation consultant Anne Pertus faced a major shift in her own life after a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes put her on a new diet and lifestyle regimen that required constant finger pricking to monitor her sugar levels. But instead of being in control of her disease, Pertus felt like it controlled her. That all changed when she switched to the FreeStyle Libre system, which uses a sensor, on a compatible smartphone* or a reader to monitor glucose without finger pricking.†
Anne Pertus

My insulin has gone down by two-thirds over the last two years. I’m not stressed anymore. I’m in control.

* The FreeStyle LibreLink app is compatible with Near-field Communication (NFC) enabled iPhone 7 and higher running iOS 11 or higher; † A finger prick test using a blood glucose meter is required during times of rapidly changing glucose levels when interstitial fluid glucose levels may not accurately reflect blood glucose levels or if hypoglycaemia or impending hypoglycaemia is reported by the system or when symptoms do not match the system readings


Lisa Vautour had struggled with obesity for many years and tried countless approaches to losing weight. Six years ago, thanks to a supportive employer, she was able to get the treatment she needed for what she unequivocally describes as a chronic disease.
Lisa Vautour

It was so much easier to be successful once I didn’t have to stress about having time off or coverage for the medications I needed.


Susan loved her work as a physician, but by November 2016 she could literally no longer stand to do her job. The pain in her feet and right knee had become relentless; walking and even standing had become excruciating. Drug compatibility testing, also known as pharmacogenetic testing, proved to be the turning point in her long journey toward recovery.
drug compatibility test

I truly believe drug compatibility testing can be the key to setting the course for quicker, more successful, healing.


Ryan is working to overcome depression. He shares his experience with benefits offered through RBC Insurance, including the Onward by Best Doctors program, that helped turn his life around.
Depression and RBC insurance

My plan was amazing because it took the pressure off me financially. There was no way I could work in that time in my life, and with a family of five, I would have had no income. My stress, anxiety and depression would have increased tremendously.

Jeff Aarssen

Retired: Senior Vice-president of Sales, Group Customer Division, The Great-West Life Assurance Company
Jeff Aarssen

If I had not found the right treatment, things could have been much worse. When I was initially diagnosed with RA, my doctor said there was a good chance I’d be in a wheelchair by the time I was 30.