If elected, the Conservative Party is promising to help employers prioritize mental health in the workplace.
As part of its election platform, the Conservative Party said it will provide employers with a federal tax credit for 25 per cent of the cost of adding mental-health coverage to their employee benefits plans for the first three years.
A year and a half into the coronavirus pandemic and with no end in sight, many Canadians are continuing to feel the pandemic’s strain on their mental wellness, says Koula Vasilopoulos, district president for Western Canada and South America at Robert Half Canada Inc. “The fact that mental health is now in the spotlight from a societal standpoint is very telling. And I don’t think it’s going to go away. What people have realized is . . . mental health and well-being now is part and parcel.”
In its election platform proposal, the Conservatives acknowledged that mental health and addiction were serious problems long before the pandemic hit and that the public health crisis has only added fuel to the fire.
From a societal standpoint, Vasilopoulos would like to see mental health in the workplace continue to be a national focus. Indeed, all three major federal parties have added initiatives aimed at fostering Canadians’ mental health and wellness; however, only the Conservatives’ action plan includes a federal incentive for employers to invest in mental-health programs and resources.
Vasilopoulos says prioritizing mental health in the workplace, ultimately, creates a better situation for both employees and employers. “You don’t have as much turnover, you’ve got happy, satisfied employees and productivity levels remain high, so [these programs] really [are] a good use of time and resources.”
In an emailed statement to Benefits Canada, the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association noted its doors are always open to any government willing to invest in employee well-being. “More than 26 million Canadians count on workplace plans for important health benefits, including mental-health supports,” it said. “When the election campaign has ended and a government is in place, CLHIA will be happy to participate in discussions and contribute to policy development to ensure more Canadians have access to mental-health supports.”