Sun Life Financial Inc. has combined existing business units in its Canadian operations to create a new health division that will help tackle the lack of mental-health support in the workplace.

Canada’s second largest life insurer announced Tuesday the launch of Sun Life Health, a new business unit that combines the company’s group benefits business with Lumino Health, a website and mobile app that connects Canadians to more than 150,000 health care providers.

Dave Jones, senior vice-president of Sun Life’s group benefits, has been appointed president of Sun Life Health, and says part of the new division’s focus will be on boosting mental-health support to Canadians.

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“We are 18 months into a pandemic and Canadians are still experiencing tremendous mental-health challenges,” Mr. Jones said in an interview. “Yet they do not feel that their workplaces are stepping up with the support that they need.”

Mental health has increasingly been at the forefront for Canadian insurers and they are paying closer attention to mental-health issues in the workplace. Canada’s top three life insurers – which also include Manulife Financial Corp. and Great-West Lifeco Inc.’s Canada Life – have all launched workplace strategies for mental health to provide Canadian employers with information on assisting employees in crisis.

But Sun Life Canada president Jacques Goulet says Canadian corporate leaders still aren’t doing enough and need to openly talk about mental health to ensure their employees know to how to access resources.

In a Sun Life study conducted in August with 1,500 participants, just 22 per cent said their chief executive officer or manager had talked about mental health in the past 12 months.

“Companies across the country are considering the future of work plans, but Canadians have said – loud and clear – it’s the future of the work force we must consider,” Mr. Goulet said in a statement. “If there was ever a time for Canadian leaders to renew their organization’s vision and approach to employee mental health, it’s now.”

The study also found about 37 per cent of employees said they felt …….


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