Canada’s Approach to Healthier Employees
While many business owners in the U.S. have had to educate themselves over the last year on the impact of Obamacare, America’s neighbor to the north has a different way of doing things for its citizens, many of whom are employees across the country’s 10 provinces and three territories.
Canada offers a single-player public health care system that allows every person to be covered by insurance.
Employers are not required by law to offer coverage to their employees. However, many businesses offer private insurance to pay for services not covered under the basic plan.
It allows them to stand out as the best employers since health insurance is considered one of the most important benefits to job applicants and employees
Making It Affordable
Many businesses provide additional coverage for employees as another benefit.
The majority of these businesses cover the entire cost of coverage while others pay a significant percentage. These companies may also offer health savings accounts in place of health care benefits or in addition to them.
To make providing these benefits more affordable, many businesses look at group insurance where health care coverage is lumped in with life insurance short-term disability, prescription coverage, and others.
They may require employees to pay a portion of the premiums while the employers carry most of the cost.
They also shop around to compare prices with the numerous providers that are available. They often have a waiting period for new employees of 90 days, but that can be waived if the employer chooses to do so.
According to many studies, more Canadian businesses offer coverage to employees, including small business owners. In return, these same studies report better satisfaction for employees with their benefits.
Employers that are choosing a health care plan must provide the same coverage to all employees with no discrimination. However, they can choose the type of plans and amount of coverage to include as an employment benefit.
Small businesses often start out carrying just the basic insurance types and adding products like vision and dental as they grow.
Promoting Healthy Lifestyles
Businesses benefit when they have healthy employees, which is why many companies are revamping their work culture to encourage employees to develop healthier lifestyles.
For instance, National Leasing is just one company that is part of an initiative in Manitoba that works to keep people physically fit. This plan encourages healthier eating habits and exercise along with encouragement to stop smoking.
Another company, SSQ Financial Group, has its own wellness program called HealthWise that organizes lunch and learns to teach about health topics and provides exercise programs for employees. Staff members are encouraged to set a health goal and work to reach it. As they get involved, they are eligible to win prizes.
Ing Direct has a walking program for its employees and an initiative to quit smoking through an online employee wellness committee. The company also encourages employees to take part in nutrition seminars to learn about healthy foods.
Employers in Canada are on-board with improving employee health.
They recognize that a healthy, happy employee is a loyal, productive employee and one they want to keep.
By providing health care coverage and encouraging a healthier lifestyle, they are providing benefits that offer advantages to everyone.
About the Author: Joyce Morse is an author who writes on a variety of topics, including HR and running a small business.