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A Guide for Employers on Navigating Disability Management

October 31, 2023 from Medavie Blue Cross


In the realm of Canadian workplaces, the prevalence of disability poses a significant challenge for both employers and employees alike. Understanding the business impact of disability is crucial for effective management and sustainable operation.


At any given time, 8% to 12% of the Canadian workforce is on disability leave, drawing workers’ compensation, long-term disability, or weekly indemnity benefits. A notable finding from the 2023 Benefits Canada Healthcare Survey indicates that nearly 1 in 4 plan sponsors express major concerns about levels of absence and disability. The financial repercussions of rising premium costs and lost time due to injuries profoundly affect business owners, jeopardizing their competitive edge in the marketplace.


The costs associated with losing and retraining employees are staggering, equating up to five times the annual salary for professionals and 120% for non-professional staff. The ongoing labor shortage in Canada, estimated to cost $39 billion in lost GDP by 2030, exacerbates the challenges faced by businesses.


Mental Health Challenges on the Rise

Mental health issues have emerged as a prominent factor in disability claims, constituting approximately 30% of all short- and long-term disability claims. The Mental Health Commission of Canada underscores that mental health is the leading cause of both long-term and short-term disability claims managed by Medavie Blue Cross.


The statistics reveal a concerning trend, with a 36% increase in employees experiencing mental health-related disabilities between 2019 and 2021, as reported by Statistics Canada. Additionally, individuals with chronic conditions are twice as likely to suffer from depression and anxiety compared to the general population.


Early Intervention is Crucial for Success

Early integrated intervention is identified as a pivotal factor in achieving positive health outcomes. Technological advancements offer new opportunities for streamlined access to expert mental health care. Combining early psychiatric treatment with digital Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has proven effective in facilitating a swift and safe return to health and work for claimants with mental health diagnoses.


The Role of Employers

As the demographic shift in Canada’s working population continues, employers play a pivotal role in addressing the impending increase in disability rates. Acknowledging the importance of a short-term disability strategy with early intervention services, employers can actively engage in effective disability management.


Employer involvement, in collaboration with employees, medical professionals, and insurers, ensures quality care is administered early on, facilitating a swift return to work. Dr. Les Kertay, a clinical psychologist, emphasizes that 90% of return-to-work is a negotiation between the employee and the employer. Clear and consistent communication becomes imperative to prevent surprises in accommodation and return-to-work planning.





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