Forty-two per cent of Canadian employers are anticipating an increase in medical leaves related to mental-health concerns and illnesses, according to a report by the Conference Board of Canada.

The report, which surveyed 205 Canadian employers, found respondents are also expecting an increase in leaves related to cancer (15 per cent), musculoskeletal issues and injuries (13 per cent), diabetes (nine per cent), arthritis (nine per cent) and pregnancy-related illness or injury ( six per cent).

Read: Majority of Canadians suffering from a mental-health issue, sleeping disorder: survey

According to the report, employers attributed the increase in mental-health leaves to a greater awareness and reduction in the stigma surrounding mental-health issues, as well as rising levels of employee stress related to factors such as a poor economy and organizational changes. They attributed increases in musculoskeletal injuries, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and cancer to an aging workforce.

The survey also asked employers where they expect to see decreases in medical leaves. Eight per cent cited musculoskeletal issues, followed by mental health (four per cent) and cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and pregnancy-related illness and injury (one per cent each). The anticipated decreases are due to targeted education and prevention programs in the workplace, according to respondents.

Read: Sounding Board: The keys to managing rising mental-health LTD claims

The survey also found 68 per cent of respondents have formal absence and disability management strategies and 86 per cent have a written policy that outlines steps employees and supervisors should take if an employee needs to take medical time off.

“Preventing illness and injury and promoting employee well-being are of critical importance to employers, but not all illness and injury can be prevented,” said Allison Cowan, director of total rewards and workplace health research at the Conference Board of Canada, in a news release. “A large majority of Canadian employers recognize that absence and disability management programming is part of an effective overall organizational health management strategy.”

Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of employers offer stay-at-work programs. Among that group, 95 per cent offer flexible hours and modified duties, followed by assistance to medical assessment or treatment (63 per cent), a different job (62 per cent), telework (59 per cent) and an extended health benefits program (59 per cent).

Read: Best practices for return-to-work committees

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

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