Canadian employers bear the economic burden of the poor health of their employees

TORONTO, April 24, 2017 /CNW/ - In Canada, about $69.4 billion is spent annually on direct and indirect costs for five key modifiable risk factors – physical inactivity, smoking, excess weight, use of alcohol and low vegetable / fruit consumption. Although Canadians know that they need to lead a healthier lifestyle, they continue to get a failing grade when it comes to reducing their risks for chronic disease.

Of this enormous cost attributed to these five modifiable risk factors, approximately 70% are indirect, such as premature death and workplace disability costs. In Canada, this represents a major economic burden for employers.

Of course there are the humanitarian reasons to focus on the reduction of risk factors that can cause premature death and disability, but if that is not convincing enough, then let's look at the economics of it all. Dr. Hans Krueger (President of H. Krueger & Associates Inc. and Adjunct Professor at the UBC School of Population and Public Health) has shown that a 1% year-over-year reduction of these five risk factors would save the Canadian economy over $7 billion in the next five years and a staggering $28.1 billion in the over the next 10 years. "It's difficult to imagine anything else that could produce that kind of return for Canadians," said Rhiannon Traill, President and CEO of the Economic Club of Canada.

Canadian workplaces present an optimal venue to introduce early intervention strategies that reduce the economic and health burden of these modifiable risk factors. Using analytics combined with evidence-informed approaches has to be the focus for not only employers, but the entire health system. "The old argument that prevention strategies provide no immediate payoff is no longer valid. The lion share of the people with these five modifiable risk factors are in our workforce, so we must take immediate action. Although health outcome improvements are a longer-term play, there are turnkey opportunities to drive quick tangible results for employers," said Susanne Cookson, Co-founder at Cookson James Loyalty.

The Economic Club of Canada, the podium of record for economic issues affecting Canada, and Cookson James Loyalty, Canada's leading experts in evidence-informed health behaviour change interventions, are proud to announce a formal strategic partnership to improve the health and wealth of Canadians.

Research is underway to review intervention models that look to demonstrate the impact of small, easy to implement changes for employers that will make a big difference to the bottom line and prevent premature death and disability of their workforce. Starting this October 2017, an annual report card on the economic burden of health in the workplace will be unveiled during Healthy Workplace Month.

SOURCE Cookson James Loyalty

For further information: Cookson James Loyalty: Susanne Cookson, Email:, Phone: (905) 599-6045; Economic Club of Canada: Kara Merpaw, Email:, Phone: (416) 306-0899


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