More about the 10th Anniversary

One of the most significant accomplishments of the Centre was its role in helping to bring together stakeholders and visionaries at a Consensus Conference in 2009. The meeting was held in Vancouver, to formally discuss the idea for a standard on psychological health and safety in the workplace.

By this time, a growing number of thought leaders agreed it was timely to work towards psychologically safer workplaces. This was due in part to the fact that a number of existing resources - such as Guarding Minds @ Work – were now available at no cost. This type of resource was now making it possible for all employers to effectively assess and address the psychological health and safety of their workplaces.

We had the knowledge that this approach made good business sense and we had free resources to help do it. So what had to happen to get more employers on board?

Canadian experts in workplace mental health such as Dr. Martin Shain, Dr. Ian Arnold, Mary Ann Baynton and others identified the need for a framework that could help guide workplaces to take action in this area.

From Arnold’s point of view, such a guideline could help employers identify where to focus to continually improve and build on the occupational health and safety approach already used in many workplace standards.

Shain wanted to avoid psychological injury to employees and the legal liability to employers that could come from that.

Baynton’s focus was on practical approaches employers could implement for supporting employees in a psychologically safe manner.

They realized that all of these objectives could be met by a standard created through a consensus-based approach, which took into account the perspective of employers, employees, union representatives, occupational health and safety professionals, policy makers, and others.

One of the attendees at the meeting was Maureen Shaw, of Act Three Consulting. She explained that the discussions were no longer just about maximizing the whole person, which had been the primary focus of workplace mental health initiatives but rather, on the whole workplace and its effect on employee psychological safety.

The group's decision was unanimous: to develop a standard that would benefit everyone. Baynton said the unofficial motto was to "be helpful and not hurtful to Canadian employers, unions, workplaces and employees."

"Coming together to reach consensus to create a nationally recognized set of processes and activities to achieve a psychologically safe and healthy workplace was the perfect opportunity to align with the wishes of organizations looking for a consistent path forward," said meeting attendee Joseph Ricciuti, then Director, Client Solutions, Canada Group & Health Care, Watson Wyatt Canada.

The decision set a "high water mark" for workplaces, said Shain. "Employers simply cannot ignore the benefits of having mentally healthy and loyal employees who want to come to work each day, and the satisfaction of being able to play a role in maximizing their potential."

The consensus-based statement that resulted from this momentous gathering set the stage for the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace that would be released three years later. The Standard is now showing clear evidence of making a positive difference in workplaces where it is being implemented (see the 2017 research summary report for the full story).

Many of those who came to the table for this important debate back in 2009 have continued to advance the evolution of psychological health and safety in workplaces throughout Canada. They deserve to be recognized,

2009 Consensus Conference participants

Dr. Taylor Alexander, CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association, National

Dr. Ian Arnold, Chair, Workforce Advisory Committee, Mental Health Commission of Canada

Jeanne Bank, Program Manager OHS/MIES, Canadian Standards Association

Dr. Jayne Barker, Director Policy and Research, Mental Health Commission of Canada

Mary Ann Baynton, Program Director, Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace

Jan Belanger, Assistant Vice-President, Community Affairs, Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life

Roger Bertrand, Chair of the Board, GP2S

Dr. Dan Bilsker, Adjunct Professor, COMH, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University

Supt. Richard Boughen, Director General Occupational Health and Safety, RCMP

Lloyd Craig, Chairman, B.C. Roundtable for Workplace Mental Health

John Duncan, Vice-President, Human Resources, Canada Post

Allan Ebedes, President and CEO, Canada Awards for Excellence & NQI

Jim Ferrero, Coordinator, CAC/ISO/TC197, Bureau de normalisation du Québec

Dr. Kathy GermAnn, Workplace/Workforce Policy Analyst, Mental Health Commission of Canada

Dr. Merv Gilbert, Adjunct Professor, COMH, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University

Dr. Susan Hardie, Senior Policy and Research Analyst, Mental Health Commission of Canada

Andrew Harkness, Senior Strategy Advisor, Healthy Workplaces, Safe Workplace Promotion Services of Ontario

Len Hong, President & CEO, Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety

Steve Jackson, Vice-President, Prevention, Ontario Workplace Safety & Insurance Board

Honourable Michael Kirby, Chair, Mental Health Commission of Canada

Daniel Langlais, Coordinator, Healthy Enterprise Standard, Bureau de normalisation du Québec

François Legault, National Director, Employee Assistance Services, Health Canada

Dr. Alain Lesage, Associate Director, Fernand-Seguin Research Centre

Charlotte Logan, Director of Disability Services, Homewood Employee Health

Christina MacIsaac, Program Manager, Community Relations, Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life

Ann Morgan, Disability Practice Consultant, Great-West Life

Dr. Jeff Morley, Staff Sergeant and Registered Psychologist, RCMP National Change Management Team

Stan Murray, Director, Healthy Workplace Programs, Canada Award for Excellence & NQI

Dr. Edgardo Perez, CEO & President, Homewood Health Centre and Homewood Corp.

Dr. Anthony Phillips, Scientific Director, CIHR-IRSC, Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health & Addiction

Joseph Ricciuti, Director, Client Solutions, Canada Group & Health Care, Watson Wyatt Canada

Sari Sairanen, National Health & Safety Director, CAW Canada

Dr. Joti Samra, Adjunct Professor and Scientist, COMH, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University

Mike Schwartz, Executive Director, Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace

Dr. Martin Shain, Principal, Neighbour@Work Centre

Maureen Shaw, Principal, Act Three Consulting

Stephanie Sofio, Legal Counsel, Commission des normes du travail

Laura Thanasse, Senior Vice-President, Total Rewards, Scotiabank

Bill Wilkerson, Co-founder and CEO, Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction and Mental Health