Conference Coverage: 2023 Chronic Disease at Work

For almost 10 years, Benefits Canada’s Chronic Disease at Work conference has examined the current trends in chronic disease in Canada and what they mean for plan sponsors.

The 2023 conference, which was hosted virtually, featured sessions on topics including disability management, substance-use disorder, multiple sclerosis, obesity management, mental health and much more.

Find out what you missed!

Dr. Peter Nord
Proactive, customized health and wellness strategies must consider pandemic impacts

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, employers will likely start to see more chronic diseases in their employee population and should consider proactive strategies for supporting workers’ overall health, said Peter Nord, chief medical officer at Medcan.

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Dr. Jeff Donovan
Donovan Hair Clinic

Jennifer Krahn

Image Evolution by Freedom Wigs
What employers need to know about alopecia areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease caused by the body’s immune system attacking the hair follicles. Affecting roughly two per cent of people globally, the disease is typically chronic in nature and can start at any age, said Jeff Donovan, dermatologist at Donovan Hair Clinic

This session was made possible by Pfizer Canada.

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Pavithra Ravinatarajan
A look at the impact of shingles in the workplace

In 2021, Marcy came into Pavithra Ravinatarajan’s pharmacy with a handful of blisters on her face, which she thought was the result of a new moisturizer or detergent. Ravinatarajan could tell that wasn’t the case: it was clear the patient, whose name has been changed, had shingles.

This session was made possible by GSK.

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Dr. Larry Lynd
University of British Columbia
How employers can support plan members with multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis, which tends to strike at the height of people’s working years, can have a significant impact on their productivity at work, as well as an opportunity cost of being unable to do the work they want to do, said Larry Lynd, professor at the University of British Columbia’s faculty of pharmaceutical sciences.

This session was made possible by Biogen Canada.

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Sherry Hnatyshyn-Webster
Return-to-work strategies, open communication help alleviate employee stress, anxiety

While the World Health Organization defines stress as any type of change that causes physical, emotional or psychological strain, simply put, it’s the body’s response to anything that requires attention or action, according to Sherry Hnatyshyn-Webster, Carepath Inc.’s managing director.

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Mary Forhan
University of Toronto

Ian Patton
Obesity Canada
Evidence-based treatments key to effective obesity management

We live in an information ecosystem — especially when talking about obesity — that’s full of misinformation, fads and gimmicks, said Ian Patton, director of advocacy and public engagement at Obesity Canada.

This session was made possible by Desjardins Insurance.

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Yvonne Murphy
Sun Life Financial
Supporting employees with chronic, complex conditions helps manage benefits costs

When it comes to chronic conditions, there’s a difference in understanding and appreciating — “and this difference goes a long way in helping employers navigate their disability claims and accommodations,” said Yvonne Murphy, director of disability claims and group benefits at Sun Life Financial Inc.

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Anthony Esposti
Community Addictions Peer Support Association
Addressing substance use as a health concern, not a performance issue

Stigmatization is a pervasive issue for people living with a substance-use disorder, said Anthony Esposti, chief executive officer at the Community Addictions Peer Support Association.

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To view highlights from the 2022 Chronic Disease at Work, click here.