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Slaw: Federal government launches workplace mental health standards initiative

MentalHealthCommissionCanadaSince the economic burden of mental illness in Canada has been estimated at $51-billion per year, with almost $20-billion of that coming from workplace losses, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) has launched a collaborative project with the Bureau de normalisation du Québec (BNQ) and the standards division of the Canadian Standards Association (CSA Standards) to create a voluntary national standard for mentally healthy workplaces. The standard aims to help Canadian employers support the psychological health and safety of their employees. According to the government, Canada is the first country in the world to develop such a standard.

A committee of health and safety professionals, labour representatives, executives, government representatives, experts in law and policy and other groups has been created by BNQ and CSA Standards to develop the standard. Funding for the project has been provided by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada and Bell Canada. Specifically, the federal government is kicking in $325,000 for the study, and Bell is contributing $150,000.

There will be a 60-day public review process held in the fall. The completed standard is scheduled to be released in 2012.

Once the standard is in place, the BNQ and CSA Standards will jointly manage the standard development process and publication. The standard will be developed as a stand-alone National Standard of Canada (NSC).

What’s in it for employees and employers? According to the MHCC, the advantages of a psychological standard for employees include protection from psychological harm in the workplace and the promotion of psychological well-being. For employers, the business case in favour of the new standard rests on four main parameters: enhanced cost effectiveness, improved risk management, increased organizational recruitment and retention, and corporate social responsibility.

Is this initiative really needed?

For more, read my recent post on Slaw.

Yosie Saint-Cyr
First Reference Human Resources and Compliance Managing Editor

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Yosie Saint-Cyr

Managing Editor at First Reference Inc.
Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B., is a trained lawyer called to the Quebec bar in 1988 and is still a member in good standing. She practiced business, employment and labour law until 1999. For over 15 years, Yosie has been the Managing Editor of the following publications, Human Resources Advisor, Human Resources PolicyPro, HRinfodesk and Accessibility Standards PolicyPro from First Reference. Yosie is one of Canada’s best known and most respected HR authors, with an extensive background in employment and labour across the country. Read more
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