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New toolkit helps organizations reap rewards of building inclusive workplaces

From Mental Health Commission of Canada

Today, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) launched the Practical Toolkit for Employers to Build an Inclusive Workplace at the Conference Board of Canada Corporate Culture Conference.

The toolkit outlines strategies and actions any organization can take to make their workplace more inclusive and welcoming to people living with a mental health problem or illness — known as aspiring workers. These individuals are as qualified, reliable, and high-performing as any other worker. They often bring a unique perspective and problem-solving ability that can contribute to an organization’s accomplishments and culture.

The MHCC’s evidence shows that accommodating workers living with a mental health problem can improve employee relationships, increase job satisfaction, and advance an employer’s reputation. The economic benefit (based on five-year projections) is two to seven times the cost of accommodation for organizations and four to 12 times for workers.

The easy-to-use toolkit walks employers and human resource managers through practical strategies and actions they can take to make workplaces attractive to this untapped labour market. The toolkit follows on the heels of the summary report, A Clear Business Case for Hiring Aspiring Workers, which examined the costs and benefits of recruiting and retaining people living with mental illness.

By making small investments to accommodate workers and using blueprints like the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, employers can build an inclusive culture that values aspiring workers.

Focused on driving success by investing in people, the Corporate Culture Conference is the ideal venue to showcase best practices on opening the door to employees living with mental health problems and illnesses.


“This toolkit is a game-changing recruitment opportunity. Trust me when I say you won’t regret opening your doors to aspiring workers. Work offers purpose, fosters self-reliance, and creates a ready-made support network. People who understand this are some of the most loyal and hardest working employees you’ll ever see.”
— Louise Bradley, president and CEO, Mental Health Commission of Canada

“Employers acknowledge the need for a new way to do business, and they’re looking for help along their journey. Of course, Canadian employers want to do the right thing; it just needs to make sense and be cost-effective. Thankfully, the aspiring workforce team has developed a framework that shows us how the right thing can be done. This toolkit is a valuable resource, no matter what kind of employer you represent: large or small, profit or non-profit, new or old. It will help you find those success stories — and with no major financial sacrifices.”
— Michael MacDonald, Manager, Health Services, Jazz Airlines

“If the person in a decision-making (position) starts from the place that they want to help accommodate but stay true to what they need to achieve as a department, that’s kind of the recipe for success.”
– Executive, mid-sized, for-profit, rural agricultural business

“I disclosed my mental illness in my interview for this role and advised of the pros and cons of it in the workplace. Being so open at the get-go enabled me to start in this role with certain accommodations and supports including setting ideal working hours, allowing for self-care, and establishing appropriate boundaries to ensure I could operate at my best. Being open also enabled me to help reduce stigma in my workplace and allowed me to become a valuable and empathetic resource for my staff.”
– Accommodated employee with lived experience, large public sector organization

Quick Facts

  • The toolkit includes five key steps that will help employers build and retain a more diverse and inclusive workforce:
    • Evaluate current practices
    • Identify priorities for action
    • Develop strategies for cost-effective action
    • Assess return on investment
    • Monitoring, evaluating and ensuring continual improvement
  • The MHCC’s cost-benefit analysis found the employer’s projected net savings over the five-year span ranged from approximately $56,000 to as high as $204,000 because they accommodated an aspiring worker. The savings resulted from factors such as decreased absenteeism/presenteeism, lowered turnover, and increased productivity.
  • Workers who were accommodated also came out ahead financially because they sustained their employment. The worker’s projected net-income benefit over the five-year span ranged from approximately $31,000 to $67,000.
  • 47 per cent of Canadian businesses are reporting a shortage of skilled labour.
  • The cost to employers from losses related to turnover, absenteeism, and presenteeism is over $20 billion annually.

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Mental Health Commission of Canada, Media Relations
613.683.3748 / media@mentalhealthcommission.ca

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Contact Us
For general inquiries, please contact:

350 Albert Street, Suite 1210

Ottawa ON K1R 1A4

Tel: 613.683.3755

Fax: 613.798.2989

Email: mhccinfo@mentalhealthcommission.ca

For media inquiries, please contact:

Tel: 613.683.3748

Email: media@mentalhealthcommission.ca

The Mental Health Commission of Canada is a catalyst for change, an organization designed to recommend improvements to the mental health system on a national level. We are not directly involved in individual cases of advocacy, outreach, service delivery or local supports.