May is Mental Health Month: Care for yourself and others with expert support
The past couple years have been like nothing we’ve ever experienced, and new challenges are constantly emerging. Many of us are running on empty and only beginning to regain emotional balance. We need to take care of ourselves, and also remember to be empathetic to the struggles of those around us.
The month of May marks the start of Mental Health Month. To help you support yourself and your loved ones, LifeSpeak’s resources on empathy, supporting coworkers and diverse communities, developing resilience and more are available. Their experts will highlight the topics of depression, stress and sleep and stress at work.
On May 25 at 12:00 p.m. ET the Ask the Expert web chat by Jennifer Mervyn addresses how to Include Mental Health in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion* Conversation
Check out your LifeSpeak platform now! Log in using the Group Account option. The password is "wellness".
*The United Church of Canada uses the language "Disability, Accessibility and Inclusion".
Canada’s Mental Health Week took place from May 2-8. To mark the occasion, LifeWorks launched a new microsite The Ambiguous Side of Mental Health. Filled with free resources, the microsite explores the subtle signs that mental health is declining, leading to adverse effects at home and work, and ways to improve your mental wellbeing.
Coming soon: Join LifeWorks as they connect with people sharing their stories of resilience, interview experts and delve into topics that matter most — like Finding Self-Worth, LGBTQ+ Wellbeing and Allyship and Combatting Depression. Click here for a sneak peek.
Building Resilience in Uncertain Times: this pre-recorded session reviews how feeling like having little or no control during difficult events is normal, and how coping mechanisms can help manage these stressful situations.
Learn how to use your faith as a guide through uncertain times in Barbara Brown Taylor’s Learning to Walk in the Dark at the United Church Bookstore. Through this book Taylor is your guide through a spirituality of the nighttime, teaching you how to find your footing in times of uncertainty and giving you strength and hope to face all of life’s challenging moments.
Benefits Canada: A look at the Pension Plan of The United Church of Canada's efforts to be a good shepherd of capital
Derek Hurst, Pension Fund Manager, was interviewed by Benefits Canada about The United Church of Canada Pension Plan.
“Our governance structure is quite robust. I report to an 11-person investment committee which reports to a 11-person pension board,” says Hurst, who’s been overseeing the decisions of the $1.6 billion defined benefit plan since 2015. “Additionally, there’s an advisory committee with eight volunteers. The calibre of these volunteers is very high — it’s incredible to me that we get people so interested in helping the plan.”
Read the full article by Gideon Scanlon here.
At its meeting on April 30, 2022, the Executive of the General Council approved the appointment of Anne Soh, FSA, FCIA as the next chair of the Pension Board. Anne served on the Pension Plan Advisory Committee since 2011, assuming the chair from November 2013 to December 2020. Anne was then appointed to the Pension Board.
Anne Soh is Vice President and Plan Actuary at the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS). An executive with over 30 years of experience in the pension and benefits industry, Anne advises the OMERS boards of directors on plan funding and sustainability matters, and oversees the in-house actuarial department. Anne also serves on the Board of Directors and the Finance and Audit Committee of Canada’s National Ballet School. Anne is a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries and has an Hons. Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Western Ontario. She is also a graduate of the ICD – Rotman Director Education Program.
Anne’s term as Pension Board chair will begin after the June 2022 meeting of the Board where Marcus Robertson, FSA, FCIA will complete his third and final term as chair. The General Council Executive wishes to thank Marcus for his nine years of diligent leadership.
Diversity and Inclusion Shareholder Win!
Constellation Software Shareholder Proposal Approved
(Toronto) The Pension Plan of The United Church of Canada filed a shareholder proposal with Constellation Software urging the company to improve their DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) practices. The proposal requested the preparation of a report on the company’s plans to identify, address, mitigate, and dismantle racial disparities within its workforce. Despite the Board of Constellation Software recommending that shareholders vote against the resolution, shareholders approved it!
The United Church of Canada Pension Plan is very proud of this outcome. In concert with SHARE, we will follow up with the company in the coming months to ensure it issues a report and to review its content and goals. Marcus Robertson, Chair of the Pension Board commented, “This is great news, and demonstrates the effectiveness of ongoing engagement on diversity and inclusion issues with invested companies.”
SHARE commented, “We are pleased that a majority of Constellation Software Inc. shareholders have voted to adopt our shareholder proposal, filed on behalf of The United Church of Canada Pension Plan to undertake a thorough review of racial equity at the company and report publicly to investors on findings. This is a crucial step for the company, which has previously taken very limited measures to address diversity, equity and inclusion. The majority vote from shareholders sends a strong signal to Canadian issuers about the growing expectations of institutional investors on racial equity. The company announced that the proposal had passed during the AGM.”
For information, Constellation Software is a leading provider of software and services to a select group of public and private sector markets. They acquire, manage and build industry specific software businesses which provide specialized, mission-critical software solution. The Pension Plan’s current investment in the company is $2 million, and market value of the company is approximately $42 billion.
SHARE's full press release can be found here.
May 5 - LifeWorks Free Webinar for Mental Health Month
Canada’s Mental Health Week is happening from May 2-8. To mark the occasion, LifeWorks Learning is offering a free webinar, No One Left Behind – Exploring the looming mental health crisis by bridging the care and inclusion gap. On May 5 at 11:00 am ET, their panel of experts will discuss how the barriers to mental health care leave people feeling isolated. Given the current state of the world, the number of people struggling with various mental health challenges is staggering. The system of public services, employer services and health benefits can often feel confusing and fragmented contributing to the lurking mental health crisis. As a result, people are left behind and feeling alone, and LifeWorks are committed to solving this problem. It’s time to reframe and transform discussions around mental health and the spectrum of care!
PocketPills and Green Shield Canada’s Managed Formulary
PocketPills is an online pharmacy service that can help manage your medications and the cost of your prescriptions. This is an optional offering that you may select. Through PocketPills both employers and employees of our plan will see significant savings. With lower costs per prescription, claims amounts will be reduced, resulting in lower out of pocket expense for plan members, better claims experience, and possible future premiums cost-savings for employers.
All drugs newly approved in the Canadian market are evaluated by a Green Shield Canada (GSC) committee of pharmacy experts before being added to the formulary for reimbursement. Drugs are assigned to one of three categories: “covered,” “not covered,” or “prior authorization required.”
- Covered drugs are full benefits of the plan.
- Not covered status are drugs that provide no additional therapeutic value over those already listed in the formulary or no cost advantage when compared to existing alternatives.
- Plan member may pay the full drug cost or consult their prescribing physician about alternatives.
- Prior authorization required is assigned to drugs considered a second-line therapy or are high-cost specialty drugs with potential for inappropriate prescribing and use.
- Plan member must meet specific criteria to access benefits; first-line therapy must appear in claims history for auto-approval and/or the prescribing physician completes a special authorization form indicating therapeutic need.
This type of formulary management balances the need of plan members to have access to medically necessary drug therapies with plan sustainability. Consult with GSC for more detailed or specific information. More information on drug coverage can be found in the Benefits for Active Members: Summary of Coverage located in the Document Library.
For prior authorization drugs, PocketPills pharmacists would not be able to dispense the medication. It would get flagged at adjudication, at which point the pharmacist would reach out to you to discuss and identify whether you are eligible or not―therefore, no surprises for you! Just a reminder, if you had an existing prescription that was covered by Green Shield Canada prior to January 1, 2022, your drug has been grandparented in to the Active plan. Only new drugs prescribed after January 1, 2022, are subject to the managed formulary criteria.
It is important to check the Plan Member Online tool offered by GSC to find out whether your drug is covered or will need prior authorization. It can be found under the “Your Health Benefits” heading, then select the “Drug” tile. You’ll be able to find out
- whether a drug is covered under your drug plan
- if you will need to pay a copayment (and if so, how much)
- if the drug needs a physician’s authorization (and if so, whether your doctor can print the authorization form directly)
Enter the name or DIN number of your drug, then select who the drug is for on your plan.
A few tips
- Drug Name: you must enter at least the first three letters of the drug name. For example, if you enter “Tyl” for Tylenol, then all drug names that begin with “Tyl” will be displayed.
- DIN: to search by DIN, the full DIN must be entered for the search tool to display the drug.
- Select Participant: some drugs have use restrictions based on things like your age. This is why the tool will ask who the drug is for under your plan.
To access the tool, you will have to register for an account with GSC everywhere. If you had an account on the previous site, you can log in with exactly the same username and password you used. If you haven’t registered, this video guide walks you through the registration process.
You can also call the Green Shield call centre and check with an agent: 1-888-711-1119.
If you have any questions or want to learn more, please e-mail Benefits@united-church.ca.
Don’t let work and life drain you – learn to recharge
When we feel overloaded, our tendency is to do just one more thing or push through. Managing this way actually depletes our energy and reduces our focus and productivity. This means we have to work harder and longer to get the same results we’d achieve if we took time to recharge.
Join the Workplace Strategies for Mental Health public webinar for Don’t let work and life drain you – learn to recharge – a live, interactive event on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. EST in recognition of Mental Health Week.
Mary Ann Baynton, Director of Collaboration and Strategy with Workplace Strategies for Mental Health, and Organizational Health Consultants on Canada Life’s Well-being team will share tips and insights as we:
- Explore strategies and resources to recharge and find balance
- Brainstorm specific actions that could prevent or reduce workload stress
- Prepare to talk about workload management with leaders or teams
- Explore a variety of activities to help us relax, calm our minds and energize us
There’s no registration required – just click on the event link a bit before the start time. It may be the most informative and inspiring 45 minutes of your day!
This is a Microsoft Teams Live event. Make sure you’ve downloaded the Microsoft Teams app before the webinar.
Find local number.
Phone conference ID: 751 106 57#
Thriving in a Digital World
Technology is supposed to make life easier—so why does it create so much stress?
It can seem like the digital world introduces two new problems for every one it solves. Social media helps us stay in touch with friends and family, but promotes insecurity and loneliness. Laptops simplify everyday tasks, but induce back and neck pain from hunching over a screen all day.
We need the right tools to make sure the digital world works for us, not against us. This month, LifeSpeak’s experts will help you survive and thrive with resources on reducing screen time, mitigating loneliness, overcoming tech addiction and more. They’ll help you decode common challenges and build a healthier lifestyle.
On April 20 at 12:00 p.m. ET the Ask the Expert web chat by Nina Hersher addresses how to protect your mental wellness when using technology.
Check out your LifeSpeak platform now! Log in using the Group Account option. The password is "wellness".
Technology has expanded to the counselling world, opening up opportunities for people to access mental health services from the comfort of their own home. Here are some great articles that highlight the positive steps in our digital world:
On the other hand, there are so many different types of social media – Facebook, Instagram, TikTok – that may have a negative impact on our mental health. These articles touch on social media and reminds us not to take it too seriously:
These articles, and more, can be found in the Health & Wellbeing tab, under General mental health. WorkHealthLife also offers online group counselling to support you during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
- Anxiety: This Online Group is designed to support you with the anxiety you are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic
- Parenting: This Online Group is designed to support you in parenting your school age child through the COVID-19 pandemic
Learn to step back and unplug from the digital world to make space for rest in your own life through author David Shepherd’s journey to reclaim Sabbath. Written as a diary, Seeking Sabbath, follows Shepherd as he decides to practice the discipline of a day of rest each week over a six-month period.
After a year-long hiatus, Connex is back! This version will pick up where the print version left off and will only be available online. Going forward, Connex will focus mainly on pension, benefits, and payroll news.
If you were previously receiving an email about Connex and didn’t see it in your inbox, check your spam folder! If it’s still not there and you would like to receive Connex, please sign up for the latest news and updates on the Newsroom page.
Lifestyle Medicine Paving the Path to Wellness
The third webinar of Teladoc Health's 5-topic series - Lifestyle Medicine Paving the Path to Wellness - will be hosted by Dr. Tim Foggin and Dr. Beth Frates on Wednesday, March 23 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
During the discussion, Dr. Frates and Dr. Foggin will review concrete examples of how small lifestyle-related, health-enhancing changes can improve our overall well-being. They’ll review principles that take listeners on a journey across the mind, body, and spirit, with practical self-reflection exercises.
This webinar will be recorded and shared later if you’re interested but unable to attend.
Attendees will learn:
- Perspectives on the return to normal, and strategies to cope with stress
- Concrete examples of how small changes can improve their overall health and well-being
- The latest evidence regarding lifestyle factors
Dr. Frates is a trained physiatrist and a health and wellness coach, with expertise in Lifestyle Medicine. She is an award-winning teacher at Harvard Medical School, where she is an assistant clinical professor and considered a pioneer in lifestyle medicine. Dr. Frates won the election for President-elect of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine in August 2020 and works as the Director of Wellness Programming at the Stroke Institute for Research and Recovery at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, a Harvard Medical School affiliate, in conjunction to serving as the Director of Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness for the Department of Surgery at Mass General Hospital. She authored a Lifestyle Medicine syllabus, co-authored the Lifestyle Medicine Handbook: An introduction to the Power of Healthy Habits and co-created Lifestyle Medicine 101, a full college curriculum. In 2020, Beth co-authored The Teen Lifestyle Medicine Handbook and co-created an entire curriculum for teens to be used by communities and schools in their health and wellness classes as well as just as general reference for teens and parents. Most recently, Dr. Frates co-authored the book PAVING the Path to Wellness Workbook: A guide to thriving with a healthy body, peaceful mind, and joyful heart. Dr. Frates has her own Lifestyle Medicine consulting/coaching practice where she sees patients 1:1 and in group settings.
Dr. Timothy Foggin is the Medical Director for Canada at Teladoc Health and a Certified Lifestyle Medicine Physician. Dr. Foggin completed Medical School and his family medicine residency at McGill University in Montreal and his Public Health and Preventive Medicine Residency at UBC in Vancouver. He has worked for Teladoc Health first as the VP and Medical Director of Teladoc Health in Asia and more recently as the Medical Director for Canada.