Mental Health: A Workplace Priority

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Resource: Shaping Organizational Excellence · Fall 2018 · 1

FALL 2018


Shaping Organizational Excellence

Mental Health A WORKPLACE PRIORITY About This Issue.......................................2 Chair's Message.......................................3 The Evolution of Mental Health.................4 HR Law: Accommodation..........................9 By the Numbers.......................................11 DCDSB: Award-Winning Initiatives..........12 Student Perspective................................15 Chapter News.........................................16 Health Department Support....................17 Photo Gallery..........................................14 Upcoming Events...................................20

2 · Mental Health: A Workplace Priority

About This Issue Gladys Saenz, Editor Shaping Organizational Excellence

Board of Directors


Resource Magazine - HRPA Durham Chapter Mailing Address: 105 Consumers Drive, Whitby, ON L1N 1C4 Fax: 647-689-2264 Circulation: 900 electronic copies circulated three times per year with limited press run. Articles may not be reproduced without prior written permission. Statements, opinions and points of view expressed by contributing writers do not necessarily represent those of HRPA. While care is taken, Resource Magazine assumes no responsibility for errors or the return of unsolicited materials. Resource Magazine is not responsible for advertising claims made in its pages or inserts; however, we will not knowingly accept for publication, ads, articles, or inserts that contain false statements or defame others. Resource Magazine reserves the right to refuse any advertisement. Credit for advertisement limited to space error occupies. The information contained in this publication is provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice. Design: Editing:

Our fall issue of Resource Magazine is on mental health in the workplace, with a particular focus on employee wellness initiatives as preventative measures. It has been a long journey to bring mental health issues out of the shadows. Many employees have lost their jobs or were terminated due to such issues because of the lack of understanding and support in the workplace and community. Indeed, the stigma and discrimination that existed prevented many people from revealing their struggles or seeking treatment at all. It is encouraging to see the advances that have been made, especially over the last few years. The article, “The Evolution of Mental Health Programs,” provides a high-level view of the changes that have occurred since 1983. We have moved from the historical misconception that people with mental health issues had to be quietly institutionalized to the current legislation requiring organizations to have policies and programs in place to support, understand and accommodate employees in the workplace. However, despite the progress made, some stigmas remain. As a result, many workers with mental health issues are still uncomfortable admitting their issues and seeking help. These workers often use sick leave or are otherwise absent from work and their performance level is low, thus having a negative impact on the organization. HR can help. We can develop a business case to create programs and support for mental health by sharing the financial impact of absenteeism, sick time used, etc. The Durham Catholic District School Board (DCDSB) was awarded the 2017 Health Workplace Award by the Durham Region Health Department. We spoke to Michael Grey, Superintendent of HR & Administrative Services and International Education at DCDSB, about the initiatives they have put in place to address the stigma associated with mental health issues. The legal article looks at the challenges addressing mental health issues at work and the steps to ensure employees receive the required accommodation. As HR professionals, we must continue to raise awareness about mental health, and ensure organizations have the programs and policies in place to meet legal obligations and provide support to employees. HR can help create a culture of trust, where employees feel comfortable disclosing conditions without fear of negative consequences. We can work alongside managers to identify potential issues, monitoring metrics such as absence and performance data. Employers have a legal and moral responsibility to take care of employees. As the HR leaders in our organizations, we must have an excellent understanding of mental health issues so we can contribute and help end the stigma surrounding mental illness. All employees can have productive work lives with the right programs and support.

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From the Chair’s Desk:

HR Leadership in Changing Times Ernest Ogunleye, Chartered MCIPD

My fellow Regional Durhamites, Set your course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship. - Omar N. Bradley, General of the U.S. Army (1893-1981) For me, this quote means we should follow our own goals in life, not those of others. Take NAFTA renegotiations, for instance. Canada stuck mostly to its principles, while others focused on immediate gains and not the associated long-term considerations. A deal was struck between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico on September 30; NAFTA is now the United States-MexicoCanada Agreement (USMCA). 1 If passed by each country’s respective parliament, it will be in force for 16 years and can be reviewed every six years. This should, among other things, provide greater stability to the automotive industry in North America and retain several protective measures for Canada’s agricultural industry—both of direct benefit to Durham Region. The USMCA still regulates the movement of skilled labour. Analytics about people to drive performance will be much coveted in this area. We saw the benefits of it at the FIFA World Cup 2018, where resources and technology were provided for all 32 teams to analyze the performance of their team.2 This information was relayed in real-time during matches, so learnings could be applied in real-time to the same match. This technology may have contributed to the eventual victory of France. 1 2 soccer/article-outfitting-world-cup-teamswith-stats-tablets-fifa-ups-its-analytics/

Just imagine this concept applied on a global scale to a variety of workplaces. In June, the U.K.’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development released a global study in conjunction with Workday, “People Data Driving Performance.”3 It makes for interesting reading. In Canada, we are facing talent shortages. While data analytics may help, the underlying challenge of too few people with the right skills remain. This must be addressed rapidly, as our continued economic growth depends on it. Yet, an article in the September issue of Canadian HR Reporter eludes to the fact that many CEOs are not currently tackling this issue head on.4 This will have to be remedied. Provincially across Canada there have been several changes in parliamentary representation. Among them, Quebec went to the polls on October 1 and voted in a new moderate centre-right party called the Coalition Avenir Québec, which took 74 of the 125 seats.5 This is an historic change for that province and heralds a potential long-term change in its political landscape. In Ontario, the Conservatives swept to power with 76 seats out of a possible 124 on June 7 and declared that the minimum wage will not be increasing beyond its current $14 per hour in January 2019.6 The Conservatives are also reviewing other aspects of 3 strategy/analytics/people-data-drivingperformance 4 5 quebec-election-result-1.4846201 6

the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act (Bill 148). We can certainly expect an imminent statement on other regulatory changes to follow. We also faced municipal elections across Ontario on October 22. The Conservatives, through the Better Local Government Act, 2018 (Bill 5), had reduced Toronto’s 47 wards to just 25 for these elections, and cancelled planned elections for the head of council position in the regional municipalities of Muskoka, Peel, York and Niagara, turning them into appointed roles. Durham Region was unaffected. I hope you voted to ensure all our communities were best represented. What of HRPA Durham? This issue focuses on mental health— mainly how HR can support and help empower individuals. We also proudly introduce our three new Board members: Licinia Bennett, Jenn Janca and Leyland Muss. In addition, we continue with a packed professional development program that runs from September 2018 to June 2019. We were honoured by a visit from the new HRPA CEO, Louise Taylor Green, to our New Member Event on September 18. On behalf of HRPA Durham, I would like to thank her for taking time out of her busy schedule to attend. I leave you with the thoughtful words of Indira Gandhi, former and only female Prime Minister of India (1917 -1984): “There are two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.”

4 · Mental Health: A Workplace Priority

The Evolution of Mental Health Programs Over the past several decades, Ontario has been increasing its commitment to effective and accessible mental health policies and services. To illustrate, the following timeline from the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) outlines the activities that have occurred since 1983. You can also find this timeline on CMHA's website at ontario.cmha. ca/provincial-policy/health-systemstransformation/history-of-mentalhealth-reform. Reprinted with permission.


Towards a Blueprint for Change: A Mental Health Policy and Program Perspective (Heseltine Report) The primary goal of this report was to provide support for the development of a continuum of service delivery, while ensuring that people with mental illnesses can receive appropriate help in their own communities.


National Drug Strategy Canada launched a five-year National Drug Strategy in order to address concerns with both supply and reduction of illegal drugs in Canada. This strategy

noted that a balanced approach was necessary and six areas of focus were identified: • Education and prevention • Treatment and rehabilitation • Enforcement and control • Information and research • International cooperation • A national focus on demand reduction


Building Community Support for People: A Plan for Mental Health in Ontario (Graham Report) The report followed a series of consultations and recommended that priority should be given to services for people with serious mental illnesses. The report proposed a plan for the development and implementation of a comprehensive community mental health system. [Copyright © Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 1988. Reproduced with permission.]


National Drug Strategy Phase Two Canada launched a second phase of the National Drug Strategy by including the National Strategy to Reduce

Impaired Driving. The initiative is named Canada’s Drug Strategy.


Putting People First: The Reform of Mental Health Services in Ontario This report endorsed the Graham Report (1988) and proposed a 10-year plan for mental health reform in Ontario based on common vision and values. It also confirmed that priority should be given to services for people with serious mental illnesses and stated that the goal of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care should be to allocate 60% of the mental health funding envelope to community services and 40% for hospital care by 2003, reversing the actual funding allocations at that time. (© Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 1993. Reproduced with permission.)


Implementation Planning Guidelines for Mental Health Reform This report set out clear expectations for District Health Councils and their role in mental health reform based on Putting People First (1993). (This document is copyrighted.)

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District Health Council Recommendations Based on Putting People First (1993) and following the 1994 commitments, District Health Councils recommended that community mental health services be coordinated through strategies such as joint networks, lead agencies, joint protocols, assessment tools and tracking with a clear point of access into the system; that models of delivery be based on best practices; and that a continuum of services are offered, including case management.


A Provincial Strategy to Coordinate Human Services and Criminal Justice Systems in Ontario This strategy provided a plan for Ontario to improve the coordination of human and justice services for individuals that come into conflict with the law. The strategy targets adults with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities that are involved with the criminal justice system and was developed by partnering ministries: Ministry of the Attorney General, Ministry of Health (now the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care), Ministry of Community and Social Services, the Solicitor General and Correctional Services (now the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services). This is the founding document for the various local, regional and provincial Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committees across Ontario that are still improving coordination between human and justice services across the province today.


2000 and Beyond: Strengthening Ontario’s Mental Health System This report was based on a consultation led by Dan Newman, MPP, who was at the time the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health

and Long-Term Care. The principle of community-focused care set out in Putting People First (1993) was endorsed by the government, but the Newman Report noted that at the fiveyear mark, funding had not yet been allocated to implement needed reform.


Building a Community Mental Health System in Ontario: Report of the Health Services Restructuring Commission The provincial Health Services Restructuring Commission included in its recommendations to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care divesting Ontario’s nine provincial psychiatric hospitals to the public hospitals. It also recommended transitional funding so that services could be established before the beds were closed, and it estimated that $83 and $87 million would be needed for transitional investments until savings from the closed beds would be realized. Making It Happen: Implementation Plan for Mental Health Reform This report outlines the Ministry’s strategy “to increase the capacity of the system for comprehensive and integrated treatment, rehabilitative and support services while focusing on community alternatives wherever possible.” It was also intended to guide strategic investments over the next three years and committed to protecting mental health funding. With this report, the government committed to investing in community mental health care prior to the divestment of provincial psychiatric hospitals so that appropriate services would be available for individuals when they left hospital. It also made a commitment to continued investments/reinvestments in mental health services to “support mental health reform and increase the overall capacity of the system.” The report also stated that in 2002 there would be a

review of the plan to “revise implementation strategies and program funding priorities as necessary.”


Mental Health: The Next Steps: Strengthening Ontario’s Mental Health System This is a short report on the consultation process on legislative changes to the Mental Health Act and the Health Care Consent Act. The report states that the proposed legislative changes will “ensure people with serious mental illnesses get the care and treatment they need in a communitybased mental health system.” Making It Work: Policy Framework for Employment Supports for People with Serious Mental Illnesses This report elaborates on the issue of employment supports, providing additional recommendations on issues not adequately addressed in the initial 10-year plan set out in Putting People First (1993). The goal was to develop a coordinated response at both the federal and provincial levels to income and employment supports and the business sector. Drug Treatment Courts Open Drug treatment courts open in Ontario, with the first being in partnership with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. The objective of Drug Treatment Courts is to divert individuals who are addicted to drugs into rehabilitation programs rather than jail.


Making It Happen: Operational Framework for the Delivery of Mental Health Services and Supports This document is a companion to Making It Happen: Implementation Plan for Mental Health Reform (1999). It established a framework to reform the mental health system. The report commits to including a continuum Continued on next page

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of services for persons with mental illnesses: first line, specialized and intensive. Again, the government re-affirmed its commitment to investment in community mental health care to alleviate pressure resulting from the divestment of psychiatric hospitals. Controlled Drugs and Substances Act Amended Amendment made to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act that would allow for the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes.


Mental Health Implementation Task Force Reports The Mental Health Implementation Task Forces were convened in 1999 to provide recommendations and advice to the Ministry of Health and LongTerm Care regarding the implementation of a reformed mental health system in Ontario. Over a three-year period, these regional task forces consulted with thousands of people in the field of mental health. Based on these consultations, the task forces submitted nine region-specific reports for implementation of mental health reform. The final report of the Provincial Forum of Mental Health Task Force Chairs identified the following themes for reform in their report, The Time is Now: • Adopting a recovery philosophy, with the consumer at the centre of the system • Creating partnerships with other supporting services in the health, social and justice sectors • Implementing regional decisionmaking, to improve local delivery systems • Building peer support into the mental health system • Increasing support to families of people living with mental illnesses • Providing safe and affordable housing • More emphasis on early intervention and treatment

• Enhancing employment support • Ensuring adequate income support • Developing greater system accountability, performance standards and information systems • Appointing a provincial team to keep mental health reform on the provincial agenda


Out of the Shadows at Last: Transforming Mental Health, Mental Illness and Addiction Services in Canada In October 2004, the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology was authorized to examine the Canadian health care system, in particular, issues concerning mental health and mental illnesses. This report looks at the current state of mental health and mental illnesses across the country. Experiences of individuals, families and health care providers informed the report and investigated specific issues relating to mental health including patient rights, service organization and delivery, children and youth related issues, workplace and employment mental health, First Nations and Inuit-specific challenges, and provides the foundation towards the first national Mental Health Strategy. This document was the basis for creating the Mental Health Commission of Canada in the spring of 2007.


Moving in the Right Direction – Systems Enhancement Evaluation Initiative In 2004, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care increased funding to the community mental health and addictions system by 52%. The Systems Enhancement Evaluation Initiative was a project created in 2005 set out to review the impacts that this significant investment had on the community mental health

system within Ontario over a four-year period. The project was coordinated by the Health Systems Research and Consulting Unit at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. There were nine research studies conducted through this initiative and the report outlines the key findings of each of the projects. Research studies were conducted on a provincial, regional and program level basis and covered such areas of community mental health as Assertive Community Treatment, crisis services, court programs, discharge planning and early intervention programs. This report was created in partnership with key stakeholders within the mental health and addictions system in Ontario, including the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, the Ontario Government, the Ontario Mental Health Foundation, the Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario Division, and the Ontario Federation of Community Mental Health and Addictions Programs (now Addictions and Mental Health Ontario). Every Door is the Right Door This is a discussion paper developed by the Minister’s Advisory Group on Mental Health and Addictions for public consultation as part of the development of a new 10-year provincial strategy for mental health and addictions in Ontario. Towards Recovery & Well-Being: A Framework for Mental Health Strategy for Canada Produced by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, this document provides a mental health framework for Canada and was informed by consultations with thousands of stakeholders across the country. The framework outlines the goals to create a transformed mental health system that, if fulfilled, would create a system capable of improving mental health care for Canadians. This was the initial phase of the Mental Health of Canada

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Commission’s development of the first national mental health strategy that would be released in 2012.


Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions Interim Report This report provides a summary of major issues identified through the public hearings the committee convened throughout the province and submissions received by the committee during 2009/10. Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions Final Report This report summarizes the results of the committee’s investigations into the mental health and addictions needs of Ontario’s population and outlining their recommendations to improve the mental health and addictions system.


Open Minds, Healthy Minds: Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy In June 2011, Ontario released this report, outlining the plan to support mental health and to provide the integrated services and supports that Ontarians need if they experience a mental illness or addictions.


Changing Directions, Changing Lives: The Mental Health Strategy for Canada This was Canada’s first mental health strategy led by the Mental Health Commission of Canada as part of their mandate when it was created in 2007. Building on the national framework titled “Towards Recovery & WellBeing: A Framework for Mental Health Strategy for Canada," this 2012 strategy outlines recommendations for action to create the mental health system envisioned by the framework produced in 2009. Areas of recom-

mended action include the promotion of mental health across the lifespan and various environments; improving access to treatments and supports; reducing disparities in risk factors and access to mental health services; addressing First Nations, Inuit and Métis mental health needs; and the need to take a whole-of-government approach to transforming the mental health system across Canada. Moving on Mental Health: A system that makes sense for children and youth Open Minds, Healthy Minds: Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy was created in 2011 and outlined that the first three years of Ontario’s mental health strategy would focus on child- and youthcentered priorities. The Ministries of Children and Youth Services, Education, Health and Long-Term Care, and Training, Colleges and Universities created this strategy, Moving on Mental Health, which outlined a plan for action for Ontario to take in order to ensure that children and youth will have improved access to mental health services. Specific goals of this strategy included defining a core set of children and youth mental health services that will be available in all communities across Ontario, establishing community lead agencies that would be responsible for providing the core services in specific regions

across the province, and building a regulatory framework for the lead agencies so that all would be providing the same level of care to children, youth and families of Ontario.


Open Minds, Healthy Minds: Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy In November 2014, the second phase of Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy was released, outlining the government’s plan to continue to invest and transform mental health and addictions supports throughout the province. Five strategic pillars were introduced as priorities for the province to improve mental health and addictions within the province of Ontario. The priorities outlined in this strategy include promoting mental health and well-being; ensuring early identification and intervention; expanding housing, employment support and diversion and transitions from the justice system; providing the right care, at the right time, in the right place; and funding reform based on need and quality. This report also highlighted the progress of the first three years of the Strategy which lead to many improvements for the child and youth mental health system including:

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8 · Mental Health: A Workplace Priority

the launch of Ontario’s youth suicide prevention plan, increased psychiatric consultations for children and youth through expanded and enhanced Tele-Mental Health services, and over 50,000 additional children and youth receiving mental health supports.


Better Mental Health Means Better Health: Annual Report of Ontario’s Mental Health and Addictions Leadership Advisory Council Formed in 2014, the Mental Health and Addictions Leadership Advisory Council is a group of individuals from across Ontario who are working to support the implementation of Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy. Part of the Council’s task is to report annually on the progress of the Strategy and create recommendations to government on ways to improve the mental health and addictions system. This initial report from the Council focused on their priorities for the years ahead including prevention, promotion and early intervention; youth addictions; supportive housing; system alignment and capacity; and community mental health and addictions funding reform. The Council also outlined some key recommendations that require urgent attention from government to address unmet needs for Ontario includ-

ing the recommendation to move on key First Nations, Métis, Inuit and Urban Aboriginal mental health and addictions issues, and also to prioritize investments in supportive housing, youth addictions and promote a culture of quality like in other parts of the health care system. Taking Stock: A Report on the Quality of Mental Health and Addictions Services in Ontario December 2015 we saw the first report from Health Quality Ontario (the government agency responsible for reporting on system performance of the provincial health care system) on mental health and addictions within the province. The document was produced in partnership with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. System performance indicators are used to tell the story of the current state of mental health and addictions in Ontario including financial implications of mental illnesses and addictions for Ontario, perceived effectiveness of community mental health and addictions services, prevalence of mental illnesses and addictions based on sex and age, wait times, and follow-up and emergency department visits for individuals with mental health and addictions needs. The report also identifies gaps in information that are preventing the province from understanding issues related to

access and quality within the mental health and addictions system.


Better Mental Health Means Better Health – Moving Forward: Second Annual Report of Ontario’s Mental Health and Addictions Leadership Advisory Council In this report, Ontario’s Mental Health and Addictions Leadership Advisory Council focused on three strategic considerations: to promote, prevent, and intervene early; to close critical service gaps; and to build foundations for system transformation. These considerations led to the Council making three key recommendations to the Ministry of Health and LongTerm Care: • To work collaboratively with other ministries and stakeholders to promote, prevent and intervene early across the lifespan. Such investments are known to have the highest returns on mental health spending in terms of cost savings in education, justice and health care sectors. • To address the chronic service gaps in youth addictions, psychotherapy and supportive housing. The Council highlights that current gaps in service capacity for youth addictions, in addition to establishing service standards and referral pathways for psychotherapy services, must be addressed urgently. Additionally, to close the gap in existing supportive housing, the Council recommends creating at least 30,000 units of supportive housing over 10 years. • To undertake steps toward largescale system transformation by leveraging and building on the work of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to achieve a seamless transition for children and youth to the adult system.

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HR Law

Accommodating Mental Health in the Workplace Christine Ashton


hat would you do if an employee announced they were taking the next week off due to stress? Employers can face many challenges when addressing mental health issues in the workplace. These challenges may be complicated by the numerous sources of legal obligations related to mental health, including common law, collective agreements (if applicable), the Employment Standards Act (ESA), the Human Rights Code, the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA), and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). However, it is critical that employers be ready, with supporting policies and procedures in place, to address mental health issues.

Most employees at some point will struggle with mental health issues or have a loved one who is struggling with mental health issues. If an employee advises that they require accommodation, you must engage in an open, respectful and constructive dialogue to determine: 1. whether accommodation is required; 2. what accommodation is required; and 3. whether the required accommodation would amount to undue hardship. Overall, the goal of the dialogue is to gather all of the relevant facts while being respectful of the employee’s privacy. At no point should the conversation steer into what exactly is the diagnosis or what exactly the

employee has been prescribed. You will therefore need to be thoughtful about what is said. A well-intended question may be, “I am sorry to hear about your health struggles. Has your doctor determined what is wrong?” However, this question may be seen as crossing the line because it is coming from an employer to an employee. Instead, focus on being supportive while only gathering what is relevant. For example, a more appropriate question would be, “I am sorry to hear about your health struggles. Has your doctor recommended anything we can do to support you?” The objective is to balance being supportive with not being intrusive. Many accommodation conversations start with an employee providing a medical note simply stating that they Continued on next page

10 · Mental Health: A Workplace Priority

need a certain form of accommodation (e.g., to work from home once a week) or a leave of absence—though you may be able to accommodate that employee in a manner not contemplated by the note. Whatever the starting point, a key part of the accommodation dialogue often involves having the employee’s physician complete a medical questionnaire. The medical questionnaire, when properly drafted and completed, allows you to understand whether accommodation is required and what accommodation is required. When preparing the questionnaire, strive to make it easy to complete (e.g., checkboxes, yes-or-no options, etc.). For example, one of the first questions should be a simple yes or no as to whether the physician believes that, in review of the employee’s job description, the employee has a physical or mental health issue that requires accommodation. Also ensure the questionnaire addresses the different options for accommodation (e.g., change in hours of work, change in days of work, change in communication methods, change in workstation location, etc.). For instance, if an employee states they are stressed by their commute, the questionnaire could ask whether accommodation could take the form of changing the employee’s shift schedule to eliminate high-traffic commuting.

modation required would amount to undue hardship. If the hardship threshold would not be crossed, the required accommodation should be given. If the required accommodation would amount to undue hardship, the employee is not entitled to the accommodation under the Human Rights Code; however, there may still be a legal obligation to accommodate. For example, if an employee states that they need 10 days off to support a family member with mental health issues, the employee may be entitled to that leave of absence under the ESA. So even if that leave of absence would amount to undue hardship for the employer, the employee may still be legally entitled to it. When accommodating an employee, the employee should be accommodated in their normal job position. If that is not possible, the employee should be accommodated in an alternative position. If there is no position in which the employee could be accommodated or if the accommodation would amount to undue hardship, the employee may need to be placed on an approved leave of absence or a determination may be made that there has been a frustration of the employment contract. If an employee is placed on a leave, they should remain top of mind when any new positions or opportunities arise.

Finally, ensure the questionnaire concludes by asking when this medical opinion may change (if ever). The answer to this question allows you to determine an appropriate timeline to follow up with the physician for an updated questionnaire. All too often, employers leave an employee in an accommodated position for years unnecessarily.

To ensure everyone understands the accommodation and leave process, it should be addressed in the company’s handbook. In fact, pursuant to the AODA, the accommodation process is required to be addressed by way of a written policy for most employers. By including accommodations and leaves in the handbook, you avoid uncertainty over important matters, such as whether leaves are paid and whether benefits continue during the leave.

Once you feel comfortable that you know all of the relevant facts, you have to determine whether the accom-

As the accommodation path may be difficult and riddled with possible missteps, it is important for employ-

ers to be ready to handle the conversation. Successful workplaces are those equipped to support employee mental health. Christine Ashton is Partner at Wilson Vukelich LLP ( She can be reached at The information contained in this article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice, nor does accessing this information create a lawyer-client relationship. This article is current as of October 2018 and applies only to Ontario, Canada, or such other laws of Canada as expressly indicated. For clarification or for legal or other professional assistance, contact Wilson Vukelich LLP.

Call for Volunteers!

HRPA Durham Chapter is growing and will soon be among the largest chapters in the province. We need enthusiastic and dedicated members like you to help us shape the HR profession as we grow and our industry transforms! If you're a CHRP or CHRL looking for valuable CPD hours, or a Student or Practitioner member seeking to expand your skillset, a volunteer role on one of our committees could be just the opportunity you've been looking for! Join us on Wednesday, November 7, at our bi-annual Volunteer Open House to learn more about your Chapter, the current opportunities and how you can get involved. Come meet our Chapter Vice Chair and the Volunteer Engagement Team, who will answer all of your questions. The event takes place at the Durham Corporate Centre, 105 Consumers Drive, Whitby. Doors open at 6:00 pm and refreshments will be served. RSVP to by Sunday, November 4, to reserve your spot!

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By the Numbers


• Currently, more than 6.7 million people are living with a mental health condition in Canada. However, almost one half (49%) of those who feel they have suffered from depression or anxiety have never gone to see a doctor about this problem. Source: CMHA-Mental-health-factsheet.pdf MENTAL HEALTH IN THE WORKPLACE


• It is estimated over 1.5 million people in the Greater Toronto & Hamilton Area (GHTA) labour force have experienced a mental health issue. That is 1 in 2 people.

• In 2015, 3,723 individuals in Durham Region were hospitalized at least once in the same year due to mental illness. Durham Region youth (aged 15 to 19) accounted for 13% (478 out of 3,723) of the total number of those individuals.

• Over the next 10 years, current mental health issues in the GTHA labour force could result in almost $17 billion in lost productivity. • The majority of employees surveyed (60%) say emotional/ interpersonal issues are the top source of workplace stress. The top emotional/interpersonal issue identified is the culture of the workplace.


• 27% of the employees report significant stress symptoms—a risk factor for mental health issues.

• In 2013/2014, 18% of Durham Region residents aged 12 and older reported they felt stressed at work on most days in the past year. Those most likely to report feeling stressed at work were those 25-44 years of age, high income earners and those with a post-secondary education.

• 1 in 4 employees with high stress are more likely to report taking a mental health-related absence in the previous two years than approximately 1 in 10 employees with low stress.

Source: resources/Documents/HealthInformationServices/ HealthStatisticsReports/Self-Reported-Stress-at-Work.pdf

• 82% of those who report mental health issues say it impacts their work.

• In 2013/2014, 12% of Durham Region residents 12 and older reported consulting with a mental health professional in the past year—and increase since 2000. Those most likely to report consulting with a mental health professional were females, those 25-44 years of age, middle income earners and those with a post-secondary education.

• 67% of those who report struggling with stress symptoms say it impacts their work. • 42% of employees say the top priority is “managers knowing what to do” when an employee shows signs of distress. • 71% of employees are concerned about workplace stigma, 65% report self-stigma and 53% are concerned about stigma from their physician. • Approximately 60% of working Ontarians have access to an EFAP. Source: Research-Summary_Mental-Health-in-the-Workplace.pdf

Source: / resources/Documents/HealthInformationServices/ HealthStatisticsReports/Consultation-with-a-Mental-Health-Professional.pdf

12 ¡ Mental Health: A Workplace Priority

Award-Winning Wellness Initiatives at the DCDSB The Durham Catholic District School Board (DCDSB) was one of 12 local area workplaces awarded the 2017 Health Workplace Award by the Durham Region Health Department. The award recognized the DCDSB for its strategic planning related to health and health-related issues to help its employees learn more about how to make healthy choices and support them on their journey. We spoke to Michael Grey, Superintendent of HR & Administrative Services and International Education at DCDSB, about their wellness program and the initiatives they have put in place to address the stigma associated with mental health issues. RM: Your organization was awarded the 2017 Healthy Workplace Award for successfully participating in the seventh annual award program, whereby you were recognized for focusing on health topics related to chronic disease prevention, and prevention of injury and substance misuse, in a comprehensive manner. How did you change your old program into the current one recognized as top 12 in Durham? MG: Previously, we had been doing employee wellness initiatives more informally, but under the leadership

of our current Director of Education, we developed our strategic plan, which incorporated changes. One of the pillars is employee growth and a sub-area is employee wellness within our system. We are a highly unionized workplace, with 12 unions among our employee groups. A disciplinary committee from each employee group works in a collegial manner with terms of reference and a robust action plan, where there is senior management buy-in, employee buy-in and union buy-in. We have established a wellness representative at each location, as we consider that it is a priority for the organization. Looking at our data, we make evidence-based decisions: sick time data, long-term disability (LTD), Family Services Employee Assistance Program (FSEAP) utilization. We also have meetings with our employee groups in reference to the LTD program. Furthermore, we look at our Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) data and keep committees informed. The FSEAP provides a confidential analysis to help us pinpoint areas we need to work on. A public nurse also attends meetings and participates with committees to provide information and guidance on mental health issues. The application for the award guided us to develop a road map and implement a plan for the key areas we need to work on.

RM: What was the biggest challenge when implementing the new program and what advice you would give others on implementing a new program? MG: One of the biggest challenges is having the human resources and time necessary to allocate to the program. We are a highly unionized and complex work environment, managing numerous collective agreements and workplaces along with the applicable LTD program and disability management for each employee group. We dedicate specific time to educate and train our staff. Senior management supports this plan. As an example, in our program, committee members are often granted release time to attend and contribute to the committee. Our union representatives are also involved and participate actively in committees. Having the resources, people and time can be challenging. Our committees are large with all employee groups being represented, as we need to learn and understand the perspective from all angles. Another challenge is evidence-based decision making. It is easier to make an emotionally reactive decision, but when you have data, decisions are better. We are transparent, and the Wellness Committee collaborates with the Health and Safety Committee and other committees at the Board. Our Wellness Committee is not a stand-alone structure. It is entrenched in other areas of the organization, like the Health and Safety Committee. We collaborate with other departments throughout the organization.

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We have to give credit to our Director of Education; she is keen on integration between departments within the organization. If the CEO supports integration, it certainly sends a positive message to employees about the wellness program. RM: Society has come a long way in removing the stigma surrounding mental illness and disability, but we still have work to do. One of the greatest challenges employers face today is employees’ reluctance or even refusal to share their mental health challenges due to fear of stigmatization. How does HR help employees come forward with mental health issues? MG: As a department, one of our major responsibilities is the dignity and care of our staff. It is our role to foster and support an inclusive workplace, and to help support staff and their family members with mental health issues. We work with the Student Services Department, where the Wellness Committee provides workshops so staff is able to support students in the school. We provide professional development opportunities to our management team, including our duty to accommodate, human rights in the workplace and supporting people with mental health. Mood Disorders Society of Canada designed the “Elephant in the Room” anti-stigma campaign to address the stigma associated with mental illness. We have implemented the campaign for all staff. The schools have taken the program, and some have extended it to the students so they know that this is a

safe place to talk with no judgment. We invited all employee groups and all unions to participate, so all are getting the same message. We have posters in the workplace on wellbeing, recommending staff to take a break, do mindfulness exercises or go for walks. All these actions support wellbeing. The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) also developed and implemented mental wellbeing programs. All our teachers need to know that there is collaboration between our two groups, as we have 1,300 teachers. The organization supports the work the union does with respect to mental wellness. RM: What advice would you give HR professionals to obtain management support in their developing or adjusting policies and procedures to support and promote wellness and early detection? MG: I find that data tells the story in an objective way. Use evidence and data. It is easier to get alignment and make decisions when you are using hard evidence and data. It’s also important to align your strategic plan, goals and priorities with other departments. For example, our Board aligns the Board Improvement Plan with the goals of the Board’s Strategic Plan, and those help to form the goals of our Wellness Committee and other HR goals. As long as there is alignment and it is supported by evidence and data, that usually helps facilitate supportive decision-making from the management team.

RM: How does HR take a mental health strategy and operationalize it in their organization? MG: HR can use existing frameworks to see what has worked in the past. For example, within the education sector, we use the Ontario Leadership Framework. We align the organization’s priorities to budgets and resources, and build relationships alongside senior management’s support. We receive continued support from senior management in terms of our wellness initiatives. The strategy can play out in different areas of HR and the business. Our Employee Wellness Committee creates the concepts, ideas and options for the senior leadership team to consider. The Board also integrates communications that consider the mental health strategy as we communicate with our different stakeholders. Our Mental Health Lead chairs the Mental Health Steering Committee for the Board. RM: How do you determine the types of employee wellbeing initiatives you need to put in place at the DCDSB? MG: We consider three types of wellness: physical, mental and spiritual. One of the most visible is that we incorporate physical activity opportunities into our wellbeing initiatives across the organization. Daily Physical Activity (DPA) is something that we teach our students and staff. Physical activities are extended to our senior management who encourage different ways to incorporate Continued on next page

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movement, such as walking meetings. There are many benefits to being active that we teach to our students that can be directly seen with our staff. There are also other FSEAP services that build on physical wellbeing. Your physical wellbeing is a proponent of your mental health. Aside from the ones we’ve spoken about within the Wellness Committee and the mental health strategy, we have a Mental Health Steering Committee that generates ideas for the types of initiatives we undertake. From a professional development standpoint, we offer an initiative called “Animation of Culture” for employees located at the Catholic Education Centre. Each month one department plans and executes an event that allows people to network and learn while building community and fostering positive work relationships. It ties into our Strategic Plan or our Board Improvement Plan, and is a great educational opportunity for the staff and the Board to learn about other department initiatives. Unique to the Catholic education sector is the spiritual wellbeing as a cornerstone to our culture. We try to ensure everyone’s spirituality is developed and fostered, even for staff members who aren’t Catholic. We also tie things in with data and trends that are happening across the industry and the organization. We look at what has been happening in the media across the province and even other school boards. We educate the Board with data points that show the positive impact of investing in mental health and wellbeing. For example, by showing utilization

of services like FSEAP, it may offset costs such as disability leave, sick leave and general absenteeism. At DCDSB, we play a unique role in the community, as there is also public trust from parents and the community to take care of their children. We have an individual and collective responsibility to offer organizational support and resources that are required to promote a healthy workplace. RM: How have you addressed mental health collaboratively with the union? MG: Even though we have multiple unions that work with us, there is definitely a shared interest to address mental health. Unions have a duty to represent the interests of their membership and the organization also has a shared duty to support its employees’ wellbeing. Our joint committee collaboratively addresses common goals, starting with establishing a team structure, establishing goals, sharing data and creating action plans. We have taken a prevention approach with a health and safety mindset to put our initiatives into perspective. Because of this, all stakeholders are on the same page, since we want to ensure a safe and healthy workplace for all. RM: What type of feedback have you received from employees and parents about your efforts? MG: We have taken the approach to have deliberate, purposeful, data collection and so there are many different types of feedback that we receive. From an employee perspective, one piece of feedback that we can see in the data is utilization rates for HR programs. For example, increased FSEAP utilization is a trend that we are seeing and this can be attributed

to the initiatives that the Wellness Committee has introduced. Since we have educated our senior management team about the benefits of these initiatives, we can be purposeful about how we look at other HR metrics. Another tangible piece of feedback that we have received is that people may have need for a physical space to be on their own and reflect sometimes. We are in the process of creating different spaces for people to self-reflect. We also see spaces like our chapels serving as places for people to gather to help those who are mourning or want to pray. We have a family-based culture and having spaces like this for people to gather is one way for people to find comfort and wellbeing. From our parent committees, we have an active group that works with us to give us ongoing feedback. There are a number of activities that schools organize for parents, and the Board has events where we can interact with the community and ask for feedback as well. RM: Any final words you would like to share? MG: We are proud of the work that the Employee Wellness Committee has done and grateful for the support from our senior management. We value the support from all employees contributing to our success. Our strategy plan and partnership with the Durham Region have also contributed to the success achieved. The last thing we would like to recognize is that there is still additional work to support the wellness program and the mental wellbeing of our staff. Improvement to refine the feedback and evaluation of the information needs to continue so data can help the Board make informed decisions.

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Student Perspective:

You are the Keeper of Your Own Mental Health Somchai Chris Wong

Just like how our bodies become tired after strenuous activity, our minds can also become exhausted. Many of us suffer from mental fatigue at some points in our lives due to work overload, fast-approaching deadlines and other stress-inducing factors. These may just sound like par for the course in the everyday life of students and professionals alike, but it doesn't have to be this way. I’m currently in my last year studying Finance and Human Resources Management at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT). I’m involved with the UOIT Finance Society as the Vice President of HR and the UOIT HR Association as a Case Competition Chair. I perform these roles along with other commitments on top of the course load I have. A strong drive to meet the expectations of others as well as myself pushes me

forward in all of the work that I do. As a result, I end up putting a lot of pressure on myself to complete every task and take on every challenge that comes my way. While I enjoy being involved with the various groups on campus and helping out my peers whenever I can, I often find myself helping others without helping myself.

From these experiences, I learned it was important to pay attention to when I was overworking myself. When we overwork ourselves, we lose sight of simple things such as eating healthy and getting enough sleep. These are important yet easily overlooked habits that are often sacrificed for the sake of completing certain commitments.

I’ve learned the hard way that it can be healthy to say “no.” Too often I have said “yes” to a doing a favour when my plate was already more than full. However, it’s important to realize that if we take on too much at once, we won’t be able to put our best effort into what we are doing. This has caused me to experience a high amount of mental fatigue from time to time, eventually leading to burnout.

I also learned it helps to be aware of what causes—and doesn’t cause— me mental fatigue. After understanding what causes me the most fatigue, I was able to get a better estimate of how much energy I have and so how much of that energy I need to reserve for certain tasks—and when I need to say “no.”

When I burn out, I lose focus and procrastinate, which causes me to be less efficient and effective in all my work.

Somchai Chris Wong is a student at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

We Want Your Opinion!

It is important that Resource Magazine remains informative and useful for all of our Chapter members, so we are asking for your suggestions, ideas and input. Please let us know what you would like to see in the upcoming issues by contacting us at We look forward to continuing to be an excellent resource for the members of the Durham Chapter and welcome all feedback!

Our bodies and minds belong to ourselves first and to others second.

Your Opinion Matters!

16 · Mental Health: A Workplace Priority

News from the Board

Introducing our New Board Members! Ernest Ogunleye, Chartered MCIPD

In the spring, we welcomed three new members to our Board: Licinia Bennett, Jennifer Janca, and Leyland Muss. Licinia Bennett, CHRL – Student Relations Committee Chair Licinia Bennett has held senior leadership positions in a wide variety of industries ranging from telecommunications to alcoholic beverages and funeral services, as well as working with corporate giants like Canada Trust, Starbucks, Compass Group Canada and TJX Canada. She thrives on creating and implementing visions for organizations that have impact even greater than expected. Her roles have yielded results that far exceeded her job description by supporting talent needs for driving the business to achieve aggressive growth while strengthening its corporate image and employment brand. In 2017, Licinia combined her expertise to start TST – Think Strategic Talent to help organizations attract employees who are driven, engaged and critical in order to sharpen their competitive edge and power the future success of the business. She achieved the designation of CHRP in 2001 and then CHRL in 2015, and is currently pursuing CHRE. She is also certified as a facilitator through Development Dimensions International, a global HR and leadership development consultancy, and has a Strategic Leadership Certificate from the Schulich School of Business.

Since joining the Board, Licinia has taken on the role of Student Relations Committee Chair. Jenn Janca, CHRL – Board Secretary Jenn Janca discovered a passion and skill for HR while working in retail, and in 2007, she enrolled in Durham College’s Business Administration – Human Resources three-year diploma program with the intention of becoming an HR generalist. She joined the HRPA as a student in 2008, a few months after winning the HRPA Durham President’s Award for outstanding academic achievement, and has been a member ever since. In 2010, she was the HRPA Durham Chapter representative as a member of the Durham College’s Human Resources Student Association (HRSA). After graduation, to gain experience, she worked various administrative HR jobs, which eventually led her to the position of HR Manager at the Aqua Coastal Group of Companies, which was fast paced and heavily seasonal. She also continued to be actively involved in HRPA events and programs, and dreamed she might join the Board of Directors “one day.” She obtained the CHRP designation in 2014 and the CHRL designation in May 2015. In February 2016, Jenn became the Project Officer and HR Specialist with the Durham Workforce Authority. In

addition, she is overseeing the HR Alliance, a unique engagement with local HR professionals to assist with recruitment and retention of a skilled an adaptable workforce, specific to the needs of small- and medium-sized businesses in the Durham Region. Jenn joined the Board this past spring and is Secretary. She feels privileged to have the opportunity to serve on the Board—what she thought was a pipedream only a few years previous—and advises everyone to change the list of things they would like to do to the list of things they will do. Leyland Muss, CHRL – Mentorship Committee Chair Leyland Muss was born in Georgetown, Guyana, and educated at Queen’s College, Guyana. After leaving Queen’s, one of the companies he worked for was Demerara Tobacco Co. as Personnel Manager. Demerara Tobacco Co. is an associate company of British American Tobacco, a large multinational company operating in 80 countries. He was then seconded to the corporate head office in the U.K. as Assistant Personnel Advisor. He was responsible for advising the British American Tobacco companies in Central and Latin America, and the Caribbean on HR issues. He immigrated to Canada in 1977 and was Vice Presi-

Resource: Shaping Organizational Excellence · Fall 2018 · 17

dent, HR, for a food services company, with responsibility for Canada and the eastern seaboard of the U.S. Leyland has been involved in a number of business and community organizations. In terms of business, he served on the Council of HR Executives for the Conference Board of Canada, the International Society for Strategic Management and Planning, and the Business Consortium Committee on Employment Equity. His community involvement has included President of the Jaycees of South Georgetown Guyana, President of the Kaiteur Lions Club in Scarborough, and Chair of the HRPA Durham Chapter’s Awards and Recognition Committee. He has received the District Governor’s Awards for Leadership Development, International Relations and the USA-Canada Forum; been awarded three International President’s Awards in recognition of Exemplary Humanitarian Service, Leadership Development and International Relations; and been recognized with the Durham Chapter’s 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award for his demonstrated excellence in leadership and contribution to the profession. A member for many years, Leyland coordinated the of the Durham Chapter’s first mentor program. This program was non-computer based and mentors were matched by the committee based on the information given by mentees in their applications. This program has since been replaced by the Community Mentoring Program, an online mentoring and coaching program. He is the Senior Principal of L.A. Muss and Associates, an HR consulting company offering HR services to start-ups and small- and mediumsized companies. Leyland is Mentorship Committee Chair for the Chapter.

Durham Region Health Department: Take Care of Your Mental Health

Durham Region Health Department wants our residents to know that it’s important to take care of your mental health just as you take care of your physical health. Mental health is a state in which you are able to develop your potential, work productively and creatively, build strong and positive relationships with others, and contribute to your community. Using a primary prevention approach, we strive to support the wellbeing of all of our residents using evidence-based messages and strategies. The public health approach is to promote protective factors that support mental health and wellbeing, and encourage strategies that help to lessen risk factors for poor mental health. Human resources professionals are well positioned to support workers in this way. By providing supportive environments that foster individual protective factors like resilience and positive coping, as well as demonstrate respect for culture, equity and personal dignity, you can support workers who may be struggling with their mental health. Work can support mental health by providing a sense of fulfillment, social interactions, income, self-esteem and self-identity. It can also be a source of stress. Small amounts of stress help us to be motivated and creative in our roles, but too much can impact both physical and mental health. Therefore, finding balance at work to manage stress is important. The Mental Health Commission of Canada outlines a number of resources and tools for strategizing and engaging your workplace in promoting positive mental health to support this. We also invite you to explore or order our mental health resources at Michelle Ho, RN, BScN Acting Assistant Manager Durham Region Health Department Population Health Division
 605 Rossland Rd. E., 2nd Floor P.O. Box 730 Whitby, ON L1N 0B2

18 ¡ Mental Health: A Workplace Priority


If Not You, Who? How to Crack the Code of Employee Disengagement. We were pleased to see so many members on September 26 for this fascinating dinner event!

Welcome from Chapter Chair Ernest Ogunleye

Employee Engagement Influencer Jill Christensen

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Upcoming Events

20 · Mental Health: A Workplace Priority

The HRPA Durham Chapter offers events to help you make connections and expand your network while you learn something new. Your participation in certain ones also earns you continuing professional development hours to maintain your CHRP, CHRL or CHRE designation. We look forward to seeing you at an event soon!

November 7 November 8 November 13 December 6 January 23 February 27 March 27

Volunteer Information – Open House • 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. • Durham Chapter Offices, Whitby A Night of HR: Student Event • 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. • UOIT, Oshawa Breakfast Meeting: Behavioural Interview Training • 7:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. • Oshawa Golf and Curling Club Mentorship Program • 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. • Durham Chapter Offices, Whitby December Social • 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. • Oshawa Golf and Curling Club Breakfast Series: Workplace of the Future • 7:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. • Deer Creek Golf Club, Ajax Breakfast Series: Adapting to Workplaces of the Future • 7:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. • Deer Creek Golf Club, Ajax Breakfast Series: Mental Health & Wellness in the Workplace • Breakfast Meeting - 7:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. • Deer Creek Golf Club, Ajax