Mental Health – Facing The Challenges To Workplace Inclusion
In Canada, as in other industrialized countries, mental health accounts for a very significant and growing share of days lost due to absenteeism and lost productivity. It is a major contributor to strained workplace relationships, unemployment, and of course to the personal suffering of workers struggling with them. It poses daily practical challenges for employers, unions, employees and their counsel. Canadian law provides relatively little clear guidance in addressing these challenges. In a major 2015 report the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development outlines an integrated approach aimed at improving outcomes for workers, employers and economies as a whole. Its recommendations include mandatory workplace psycho-social risk prevention programs, promoting mental health screening at work, equipping managers to identify and address mental health problems on a first aid basis, making greater use of partial sick leave and “fit notes”, mandatory early and gradual return to work programs, and incentive structures to support the use of such programs. This panel will consider the appropriateness of such an approach in Canada, its implications for employers, unions and employees, and the extent to which Canadian anti-discrimination law addresses, facilitates or would impede or countermand its implementation.