Canada to develop standard around mental health at work

Scheduled for release in 2012 after fall review process
||Last Updated: 06/16/2011

Canadian employers will have increased support for improving the psychological health and safety of employees with the development of a new Canada-wide standard. The voluntary National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace will provide organizations with the tools to achieve measurable improvement in psychological health and safety for Canadian employees, according to the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC).

The government is providing $320,000 to the MHCC through a partnership between Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and Bell.

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 as well as corporate social responsibility, said the MHCC.

"The economic burden of mental disorders in Canada has been estimated at $51 billion per year, with almost $20 billion of that coming from workplace losses," said Louise Bradley, president and CEO of MHCC. "The requirements for an employee's physical health and safety in the workplace are a longstanding concern for Canadian employers. Now it's time to consider the mental well-being of the workforce the same way.”

MHCC is also working collaboratively with the Bureau de normalisation du Québec (BNQ) and the CSA Standards. 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).

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

Canada is the first country in the world to develop such a standard, according to the government.

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