Majority of Canadian employers not changing benefits plan due to coronavirus: survey

More than two-thirds (68 per cent) of Canadian employers said they don’t intend to make changes to their benefits plan during the coronavirus crisis, according to a new survey by the Conference Board of Canada.

The survey, which polled 333 organizations, found just 32 per cent said they’ve made changes to their benefits offering or are in the process of considering changes. With that group, 46 per cent increased their paid sick leave. Utility companies (46 per cent) and retail trade employers (44 per cent) were most likely to have said they’ve made changes to their benefits plan and almost all were looking to increase coverage rather than decrease it.

Some 22 per cent of survey respondents said they’ve added virtual health-care services and a further 15 per cent are considering adding the offering. Fifteen per cent of employers said they’ve added virtual psychological care, with a further 12 per cent thinking about it.

Read: 5 benefits predictions for the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic

The majority of employers said they’re continuing to offer benefits to employees on layoffs. Almost seven in 10 (68 per cent) said they’re covering all employees, nine per cent said they’re covering most and 12 per cent said they’re covering some. Just 12 per cent said they’ve ceased benefits for laid-off staff.

The survey also found 71 per cent of employers with laid-off employees said they’ve maintained the same cost-sharing arrangement, while 20 per cent said they’re now covering 100 per cent of premiums where they hadn’t during active employment. Six per cent said they’re covering a greater share of premiums and just four per cent said they’re covering a smaller share of premiums.

Nearly a third (28 per cent) of employers said they’re no longer providing health-care spending accounts to their employees on layoffs, though the majority (72 per cent) said they’re still giving those employees the full or a reduced amount.

Read: 41% of Canadian businesses have laid off staff due to coronavirus: Stats Can