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Agenda and Speakers

The Better Workplace Conference 2017Oct 24–26, 2017 Toronto

CSPDM Members Can Earn CEC Hours

Certified Disability Management Professionals logo

CDMPs and CRTWCs who attend October 25-26 are eligible for 10 CEC hours through the Canadian Society of Professionals in Disability Management.

> Show Me: Full Agenda | Speakers Only

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

1:00 PM Pre-Conference Optional Workshop
Authentic Leadership in Times of Change and Transformation

In recent years employees have looked to leaders to put aside traditional command and control models and instead be “authentic”. This development goes beyond earlier initiatives to empower employees or develop a more participative leadership style. It speaks instead to the identity of the leader and their relationship to themselves and those they lead.

And while the notion of “authenticity” can be quite profound, its current ubiquity and confusion over what it means, leads inevitably to misunderstanding, frustrated expectations and ultimately poor performance and disengagement.

This situation becomes more damaging in times of change when employees look even more to leaders to guide culture and provide a sense of context, purpose, clarity, and security.

In this interactive workshop leaders from Courage Group International will share their extensive experience in this field as you explore how to cultivate genuine authentic leadership in yourselves and your organization.

Sponsored by:

Courage Group International logo

Bureau <br />  
Founding Leadership Partner
Courage Group International
Cooper <br />  
Leadership Partner
Courage Group International
4:30 PM Pre-Conference Optional Workshop Adjourns

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

7:45 AM Registration and Continental Breakfast
8:15 AM Welcoming Remarks from the Conference Chair and Strategic Partners
Jackson <br />  
Conference Chair:
Associate Director, Human Resources Transformation Research
The Conference Board of Canada
Thorpe <br />  
Strategic Partners:
Director, Prevention and Promotion Initiatives
Mental Health Commission of Canada
Dunton <br />  
Senior Market Access Manager
Lundbeck Canada Inc.
8:30 AM Plenary Session 1
The Better Workplace Has Leaders That Show Courage and Compassion

Our kickoff speakers for this event will be Allan Braatz, District Chief, London Fire Department and Pam Ross, Special Agent in Charge, Blue Rebel Works. Together they will share their different perspectives on leadership, borne from very different organizational practice but yielding much common ground.

In addition to being a leader in the fire service, Allan also teaches leadership at Western University. The twin roles of teacher and first responder gives him a unique perspective on leadership—a perspective that he shares through stories that illustrate different aspects of leadership in different situations. This results in a memorable and compelling narrative whose lessons can be applied in a wide variety of situations.

Pam has long been an advocate for new forms of organization—for the reinvention of work to encourage innovation, participation and positive workplace cultures and communities. Her maverick but evidence based approach will challenge some basic assumptions about leadership and the design of work while at the same time also resonate with how inspiring you know work can be.

Braatz <br />  
District Chief
London Fire Department
Ross <br />  
Special Agent in Charge
Blue Rebel Works
9:45 AM Fit Break Provided by UPnGO with ParticipACTION

Sponsored by:

Image of UPnGO with ParticipACTION logo

9:45 AM Wellness and Networking Break

Sponsored by:

Image of Fit4Duty logo

10:15 AM Concurrent Sessions—Set A
(please select one session)
10:15 AM Concurrent Session A1
Conference Board of Canada—Original Research: Healthy Brains at Work—The Impact of Workplace Mental Health Initiatives

No one, and no workplace, is immune to mental illness.

And as research continues to show, poor mental health can negatively impact an individual’s health, well-being, and productivity. Organizations that pay attention to the mental health and wellness of their employees are likely to realize significant benefits through a healthier, more productive workforce. How does your organization fare?

In this third briefing in our Healthy Brains at Work research series we explore the potential impact of improving outcomes for working Canadians living with mental illness. We also explore the potential impact of improving outcomes for Canadians whose symptoms prevent them from entering the workforce.

During this session, you’ll hear about:

  • the state of mental illness in the workplace: where we are, and how far we’ve come
  • the impact of mental illness on workplace functionality and performance
  • the demographics of mental illness: breakdowns by age, sex, and other factors
  • the prevalence of mental illness within certain industries and the growing need for mental health care within these vulnerable groups
  • the significant benefits of addressing mental health issues before they become serious problems

Sponsored by: Joint Strategic Partners

Lundbeck Canada Inc. logo

Mental Health Commission of Canada logo

Thériault <br />  
Vice-President, Industry Strategy and Public Policy
The Conference Board of Canada
10:15 AM Concurrent Session A2
Better Leaders: Improving Leadership Through Systems Thinking

This session will explore a leadership toolkit for solving complex problems, using an approach that strengthens the ability to see forward and appreciate interdependencies.

When it comes to dealing with organizational cultural change or workplace wellness, a multidimensional approach is more successful than a linear process. The latter is the equivalent of taking snapshots of small parts of a system without accounting for unintended consequences in the larger system. Human beings and workplace cultures are complex, large systems: addressing complex challenges requires a multidimensional approach that explores leverage points for change and anticipates feedback loops that can radically alter an outcome.

This session will be an interactive learning event designed to identify and develop the skillsets required for success as a change leader. Participants will be introduced to practices from systems thinking, and find out about tools that empower the practitioner to share systems thinking with their colleagues at work, strengthening problem solving throughout the workplace. Be the leader you wish you had by attending this workshop.

Iffrig <br />  
Sustainability Strategist
10:15 AM Concurrent Session A3
Better Experience: Transforming Work and the Organization for Better Employee Experience: The Digital Workplace

Wherever you go nowadays people are talking about digitization of the workplace. While this is not a new trend it has accelerated in recent years, combined with the rising numbers and influence of millennial employees. Even established and typically conservative employers are embarking on ambitious digitization strategies, some of which involve a wholesale rethink of how and where work is done.

This session will focus on the impact this development has on the employee experience and will include discussion of workplace design, remote work, new technologies, and the increasing use of data and analytics. It will act as a guide to some of the pitfalls while focussing on the great opportunity that exists to transform employee experience now and in the future.

Patel <br />  
Senior Director, Employee Experience
Royal Bank of Canada
11:15 AM Stretch Break
11:30 AM Concurrent Sessions—Set B
(please select one session)
11:30 AM Concurrent Session B1
Employer Panel: Expanding Access to Workplace Mental Health Support

Building on the findings of The Conference Board of Canada’s research in session A1, this session will feature a panel of major employers discussing the specific steps they are taking to ensure improved coverage and support for employees facing mental health challenges.

Featuring public and private sector employers panelists will explore a variety of initiatives that will include changes to work practices, expanded access to psychological services and expanding drug coverage.

As awareness of the importance and impact of mental health continues to increase so employers will inevitable see greater demand for services and support. This panel will help you review your current strategy and update it as necessary to ensure you provide what your employees need to remain productive and healthy.

Sponsored by: Joint Strategic Partners

Lundbeck Canada Inc. logo

Mental Health Commission of Canada logo

Thorpe <br />  
Director, Prevention and Promotion Initiatives
Mental Health Commission of Canada
Brun <br />  
Supervisor, Health and Wellness
Emera Inc.
Slobodian <br />  
Acting Director, Wellness
Ottawa Police Service
Gordon <br />  
Director, Human Resources
David Suzuki Foundation
11:30 AM Concurrent Session B2
Better Leaders: Better Leaders Serve Those They Lead

In his essay "The Servant as a Leader", Robert Greenleaf states that true servant leaders need to be servants first and foremost. However, there's more to it than that. Not only do leaders need to possess a desire to lead that goes above and beyond just wanting personal power and gain, but they also need a high level of self-awareness. That means that they feel comfortable taking charge and don't have to put on a mask to do so- they can bring their true self to the task, along with all the skills and experience that comes with it.

The most important thing that you need in your toolbox as a servant leader is a clear sense of who you are, what you do, and why you do it. Having a sense of purpose gives leaders the kind of clarity of self that enables them to take charge of themselves, so that they can lead others more effectively.

This session will examine the core principles of servant leadership and explore how you can build the necessary skills on a foundation of self-awareness and authenticity.

McBeth <br />  
Chief Purpose Officer
Servant Leadership Centre of Canada
Blair <br />  
Chief People Officer
Servant Leadership Centre of Canada
11:30 AM Concurrent Session B3
Employee Experience: How Achieving Organizational Health and Balance can Change your Culture

Current organizational practices are not keeping up with the demands of rapidly changing and complex business environments. Too many organizations are "using people up". Burn-out is not just linked to work overload, but working too long without experiencing personal development. Organizational health and balance is needed to create new conditions for people to flourish. This is not just about new policies or tools. We need new ways of thinking to create new cultures.

Donna Clark, will share how Courage Group International works with The Leadership Circle assessments and Courage Group practices to create conditions for both individuals and the organizations to flourish. They support leaders and organizations to shift to a new internal operating system for making sense of their organizational challenges and engage the wisdom and potential of everyone to co-create the path forward. These new ways of being and doing in workplaces require courage, compassion, authenticity and openness.

This interactive session will introduce new research and practical applications including:

  • limits of current leadership approaches
  • difference in vertical and horizontal development
  • impact of minds sets on organizational effectiveness
  • conditions that support relational space and meaningful engagement
  • practices that integrate development into the work of the organization—collective development and ownership
  • redefining leadership—the emerging shift to relational leadership for organizational health and balance

Sponsored by:

Courage Group International logo

Clark <br />  
Founding Leadership Partner
Courage Group International
12:30 PM Networking Luncheon
1:30 PM Sponsor Spotlights—Set A
(please select one session)
1:30 PM Sponsor Spotlight A1
An Ounce of Prevention: How to Develop a Personal Crisis Plan

We do our best to meet multiple personal, family, and work demands. If we are blindsided by illness, injury, or life issues, even a minor crisis can cause significant hardship to those of us who are already stretched thin. This is especially true if you do not have someone to cover for you at work. In this session, you will be given a preview of a new resource currently under development. This resource will help to:

  • identify potential stressors and potential reactions
  • identify strategies to mitigate and respond to stressors
  • develop a list of resources that could be useful when you are no longer able to cope effectively
  • explore approaches for work completion and income continuation when you are unable to work

This session is for anyone, including those who are leaders, consultants, self-employed, business owners, students, or remotely employed. Whether you use this only for yourself, or to support others, you will be contributing to the development of a resource that will be made available to all Canadians at no charge.

Sponsored by:

Great-West Life logo

Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace logo

Baynton <br />  
Program Director
The Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace
1:30 PM Sponsor Spotlight A2
How Effective Are Your Wellness Initiatives? Proven Measurement and Analytic Practices to Evaluate and Better Target How You Invest Your Wellness Resources

Led by Virgin Pulse, this session will provide a forum where you can find out about the latest practices and thinking around how companies invest in the wellness of employees.

Too many organizations continue to rely on participation rates and little more than evaluating programs. Yet increased use of wearable technologies and new approaches such as gamification yield important data that, when it is properly analyzed, can lead you to more effective interventions and programs.

Sponsored by:

Virgin Pulse logo

Ryan <br />  
Director of Data Science
Virgin Pulse
Gotwalt <br />  
Account Director, Disruptor and Global Insights Leader
Virgin Pulse
1:30 PM Sponsor Spotlight A3
Chronic Disease in the Workplace: A Discussion on Mental Health

Over half the Canadian workforce is living with at least one chronic medical condition. Many are living with a mental health condition or a physical condition that has comorbid mental health factors. This impacts absenteeism, disability and overall employee well being. This session will cover the impact of chronic disease on the Canadian workforce through the lens of mental health and will showcase how some employers are addressing the issue by taking a strategic approach to support employee mental health. After this session, you will walk away with the understanding of how chronic disease is impacting Canadians and some steps you can take to start addressing the incidence of chronic disease and mental health in your organization.

Sponsored by:

Sun Life Financial logo

Pelletier <br />  
Assistant Vice-President, Workplace Health
Sun Life Financial Canada
DiCresce <br />  
Senior Director, Safety & Well-being
Rogers Communications
Sousa <br />  
Manager, Employee Health Services
Employee Health Services
Miller <br />  
Director, Benefits and Wellness Programs
Sun Life Financial Inc.
2:30 PM Wellness and Networking Break
3:00 PM Fit Break Provided by UPnGO with ParticipACTION

Sponsored by:

Image of UPnGO with ParticipACTION logo

3:00 PM Plenary Session 2
The Better Workplace is Better for Everyone

When talking about better workplaces and consulting with past attendees and others, one thing became crystal clear. Better workplaces need to be better for everyone. Canada has one of the most diverse workforces in the world and organizations wanting to improve the employee experience need to focus on inclusion—on creating organizations that welcome everyone, where everyone feels they belong.

And we also recognize that this is not just about creating great employee experiences—it is about business performance.

So, we reached out to Trevor Wilson, Author, The Human Equity Advantage whose work in this area has long been the benchmark for diversity in Canada. In this session, he will share how to create genuine inclusion that goes beyond the labels and creates workplaces where people can be authentic, contribute their best and truly feel like they belong.

Joining Trevor will be Tanya Van Biesen of Catalyst Canada. She will share some of the work they have done on women in the workplace and demonstrating the business value of diversity and inclusion.

Wilson <br />  
Author, The Human Equity Advantage: The 8 Leadership Competencies That Drive Organizations Beyond Diversity to Talent Differentiation,
and Chief Executive Officer, TWI Inc.
van Biesen <br />  
Executive Director
Catalyst Canada
4:30 PM Social and Networking Reception

Get out and mingle! The networking reception will provide an additional opportunity for you to meet a diverse group of practitioners from across the country. Take the time to visit our sponsor exhibits to learn more about their products and services and have a drink with a colleague or new connection. Also, be sure to try our special food samples in both reception rooms, specially designed to tie into our "Better Wellness" theme prepared in partnership with Danielle Nutrition

The reception will also feature music by Jazz Duo, Howard Baer and Michael Monis. Between them they have a wide variety of experience in the music industry. Michael has toured extensively and worked both in studio and on stage with countless jazz greats and Howard has a 38 year career in studio recording as a composer-arranger-producer, has six Juno nominations for album production and one Juno win as arranger.

6:30 PM Day 1 Adjourns

Thursday, October 26, 2017

8:00 AM Continental Breakfast
8:30 AM Opening Remarks from the Conference Chair
Jackson <br />  
Associate Director, Human Resources Transformation Research
The Conference Board of Canada
8:45 AM Plenary Session 3
Improving Employee Experience Through a Benefits Revolution

When considering employee experience the physical environment and corporate culture seem to get most of the attention. But to really deliver a great employee experience you need to focus also on fundamentals such as how to deliver benefits.

The health insurance industry is ready for a shake up. Between fuzzy health coverage and inaccessible services, disruptive innovations are pouring in from every digital corner and both businesses and their teams are reaping the benefits.

As the sands continue to shift, it's critical to stay ahead of the curve by better predicting how your team will interact with their healthcare services.

Mike will share insights into how digital disruption is changing the way we interact with processes and technologies, how consumerization and personalization are changing employee expectations of health benefits (and what you can do) and how AI will impact the benefits experience for employees.

Sponsored by:


Serbinis <br />  
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
League Inc.
9:30 AM Plenary Session 4
The Better Workplace Is Driven by Purpose and Passion

In developing this year's program one word kept coming up again and again-"purpose". One dimension of this is that younger employees-generation Y and now even generation Z-are looking for their work to be more a part of their lives and so expect employers to step up and support causes and charities they believe in. Additionally, these new generations are looking for meaning in their work.

We believe this development has reawakened a belief in purpose among the boomer generation who are looking now to their legacy and so turning to the impact businesses have beyond the bottom line.

This session will explore this development and offer ideas of how you can create a more purpose driven culture in your organization. You'll hear how you can use this to tap into the passion of employees and translate this into high performance.

Goran <br />  
Founder and Team Captain
SokJok Inc. & Champion a Campaign
10:15 AM Fit Break Provided by UPnGO with ParticipACTION

Sponsored by:

Image of UPnGO with ParticipACTION logo

10:15 AM Wellness and Networking Break
10:45 AM Concurrent Sessions—Set C
(please select one session)
10:45 AM Concurrent Session C1
Better Wellness: Building A Mentally Healthy Culture in Your Organization

This is the story of one organization's journey to creating a mentally healthy workplace. Using the MHCC's National Standard on Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace as a guide, the Royal Canadian Mint are now two years into an ongoing process that they will share in this session.

Topics for discussion will include:

  • Getting Started—what you need as a foundation for action
  • Getting Over the Discomfort—addressing stigma
  • Getting the Resources—recognizing what you already have and how to use it
  • Getting Results—setting goals and measuring progress

Richardson <br />  
Director, Corporate Health, Safety & Environment
Royal Canadian Mint
10:45 AM Concurrent Session C2
Making Coaching More Effective Through Understanding the Brain

Coaching has a long and venerable history in organizations—unfortunately many well established coaching practices do not reflect the latest advances in brain science. Hence they are suboptimal, or worse.

Drawing on insights from brain science, Carlos Davidovitch will shine a light on how and why coaching works. Discussion will focus on these four key elements of coaching:

  1. building trust
  2. questioning
  3. reframing
  4. facilitating change

This presentation will be delivered in a dynamic and participative way—using real-life examples and concrete participant situations.

Davidovich <br />  
Vice-President, Executive Coaching, NeuroManagement Expert
Optimum Talent
10:45 AM Concurrent Session C3
Better Experience: Goodbye Stress, Hello Life—Stress Strategies That Improve Employee Experience

We live in a fast-paced society with a seemingly endless list of demands. High levels of stress affect one's mood, productivity, and work attendance. This, in turn, affects the workplace by creating stress and tension between co-workers, and lowering overall team morale.

Life will naturally bring us challenges and stress—the key is moving forward so that it doesn't impact other areas of our lives. Drawing from personal and professional experiences, Allan Kehler provides direction that inspires people to persevere through their personal challenges rather than avoid or escape them. Allan empowers his audience to take an honest look at what lies beneath their stressors while providing the tools to heal through a holistic approach. Individuals will learn how to approach co-workers displaying signs of distress, set boundaries, and strengthen the relationship they have with not only themselves, but their co-workers as well.

Through an interactive quiz and an entertaining game of Pie Face, Allan ensures that all participants walk away with an increased understanding of stress, and the impact that it has on both self and the workplace. Allan encourages wellness by sharing strategies that are applicable in both individuals' personal and professional lives.

Kehler <br />  
Author, College Instructor, Speaker
11:45 AM Networking Luncheon
12:45 PM Sponsor Spotlights—Set B
(please select one session)
12:45 PM Sponsor Spotlight B1
Addiction and Problematic Substance Use: Developing Strategies to Address Opioids and Marijuana in the Workplace

Problematic substance use and addiction have long been controversial with disagreement over testing, employee privacy, safety, and other issues. And it very much relates to the issue of mental health with many employees suffering with concurrent disorders.

But while the topic has been important for a long time, the environment has changed and many organizations have failed to keep their policies and procedures up to date. Both the expected imminent legalization of marijuana and the troubling rise in opioid abuse have many HR leaders rushing to review their policies. Thought leaders from DriverCheck will explore this development and examine the ways employers can respond.

Sponsored by:

DriverCheck logo

Snider-Adler <br />  
Chief Medical Review Officer
DriverCheck Inc.
12:45 PM Sponsor Spotlight B2

This session is now full and closed for registration. Please select form one of our other two sponsored spotlight sessions.

Resilience and Return to Work: Proven Approaches to Optimizing Engagement and Continuity in Your Workforce

This panel session will feature industry leaders as the explore what works best when addressing the issues of resiliency and return to work in your organization. These are two of the top priorities for organizations and both have a significant impact on employee engagement, performance and the costs of mental health to employers.

This lively discussion will address a wide range of issues including:

  • building resiliency in your employees, particularly in times of change
  • encouraging and enabling employees to access the services available
  • strategies to keep people at work
  • leveraging technology to build and support resilience
  • developing fair and humane assessment and adjudication policies and practices
  • case management
  • the increasing use of data and analytics to improve absenteeism and identify successful return to work strategies

Sponsored by:

Banyan Work Health Solutions Inc. logo

Homewood Health logo

Jackson <br />  
Associate Director, Human Resources Transformation Research
The Conference Board of Canada
Kallay <br />  
Senior Subject Matter Expert, Rehab & Return Work Services
Banyan Work Health Solutions Inc.
Harrington <br />  
Director, Specialized Services & Complex Care
Homewood Health Centre Inc.
Defreitas <br />  
Director, Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
12:45 PM Sponsor Spotlight B3
Considering Cancer in your Workplace

Cancer has been considered as a disease of old age, but over 40% of all cancers are diagnosed in working age Canadians and there are now over 810,000 10-year survivors in this country. In the past, employees diagnosed with cancer often left the workforce, never to return. Now, many patients are able to return to work or even remain working during their treatment.

Many cancers have known risk factors common to other chronic conditions. Employer health strategy should reflect this, by including primary, secondary and tertiary prevention tactics with a focus on work reintegration, and the resultant need for accommodation.

Allan Smofsky and Chris Bonnett will provide highlights from a new report that outlines a series of principles and recommended practices for employers based on review of over 30 published journal studies and reports, many of them Canadian. The session will explore the persistent stigma attached to cancer, the value of health, drug and disability plans, and how to accommodate patients, survivors and caregivers in a way that makes sense for the business, the employee and work colleagues.

Through interactive discussion of the report's findings with the audience's experiences as employers, and as patients, or caregivers, this session will provide new information and a practical, evidence-informed understanding this complex and too-common condition.

Sponsored by:

AstraZeneca Canada Inc. logo

Smofsky <br />  
Managing Director
SSP Smofsky Strategic Planning
Bonnett <br />  
Principal Consultant
H3 Consulting
1:45 PM Wellness and Networking Break
2:15 PM Fit Break Provided by UPnGO with ParticipACTION

Sponsored by:

Image of UPnGO with ParticipACTION logo

2:15 PM Plenary Session 5
The Better Workplace is Yours to Lead

Above all else we want this event to help you make a difference. And the best way to do this is to enable and empower you to make a difference. So, we will end with two stirring talks on how you can lead the transformation of yourself and your workplace.

Jean Francois Menard, Kambio Performance has worked with some of the highest performing people and organizations in Canada including Cirque Du Soleil, and figure skating champions, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. He will share the approach he uses that help these employers and people achieve their business and personal best.

Glain Roberts McCabe Founder and President of The Roundtable will join Jean Francois to discuss how to help teams achieve greater collaboration and performance—a key skill in the increasingly connected workplace.

You won't want to miss this powerfully inspiring conclusion to the event that will mark the beginning of the next stage of continuing your journey to the better workplace.

Ménard <br />  
Founder and President, Kambio Performance
Mental Performance Specialist, Consultant and Speaker
Roberts McCabe <br />  
Founder and President
The Roundtable
3:45 PM Closing Remarks from the Conference Chair
Jackson <br />  
Associate Director, Human Resources Transformation Research
The Conference Board of Canada
4:00 PM Conference Adjourns


We’d like to thank our generous partners for their contribution to this event.

Joint Strategic Partners

Lundbeck Canada Inc. logo

Mental Health Commission of Canada logo

Major Partner

Sun Life Financial logo

Participating Sponsors

AstraZeneca Canada Inc. logo

Courage Group International logo

DriverCheck logo

Great-West Life logo

Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace logo

League logo

Clinemetrica Inc. logo

nVIGORus logo

Homewood Health logo

University of Fredericton logo

ReedGroup logo

Image of Fit4Duty logo

Image of UPnGO with ParticipACTION logo

Banyan Work Health Solutions Inc. logo


Cira Health Solutions logo

CPA Canada logo

InBody Canada logo

Ledgehill Treatment and Recovery Centre logo

Oakhill Recovery Centre logo

Passport Health logo

Tri Fit Inc. logo  

     Medisys Health Group logo

Virgin Pulse logo

Marketing Partners

Canadian Society of Professionals in Disability Management logo

Catalyst logo


Civic Action logo

IPAC logo

Nutrition Resource Centre logo

Ontario Public Health Association logo

Public Services Health and Safety Association logo

Travel Partner

Image of VIA Rail Canada Inc. logo

Special Contributors

Danielle Turk, Registered Nutritionist logo

Data on the Spot logo

Image of Livingface Photography logo

Office Massage logo

Image of Revelo logo

The details of this event are subject to change. Please revisit this page periodically for updated information.