Psychological Health and Safety in Canadian Workplaces: December 2021 results

The 2021 Psychological Health and Safety in Canadian Workplaces survey looked at psychological health and safety in the workplace with a special focus on the impact on marginalized populations.

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The comprehensive research study – commissioned by Workplace Strategies for Mental Health, compliments of Canada Life, and conducted by Mental Health Research Canada (MHRC) in December 2021 – measured a wide range of factors relating to how employees are feeling at work today. Those factors included everything from engagement and recognition to workload and safety.

This survey also looked at the experiences of those in marginalized populations to see how they experienced psychological health and safety in the workplace.

MHRC is a national, charitable organization dedicated to improving the lives of the one in 5 Canadians living with mental illness, as well as their families, caregivers and communities. They advance evidence-based mental health knowledge that is problem-solving and applicable in the real world.

Key findings

Some of the highlights are below, for more information see the full report.

Click here to view a summary of psychosocial factors that contribute to psychological health and safety, and the percentage of Canadians who indicate a positive experience.


  • Older Canadians feel more positively about their work environment overall. 
  • Younger workers (age 18-34) are most likely to have issues when it comes to knowing what they're expected to do in their job and their control over their environment. 
  • Younger workers also report a higher rate of burnout and impact on psychological health and, while incidence is low, they're more likely to experience bullying and unfair treatment due to mental illness.  
  • Canadians aged 35 to 54 are more likely to have issues with workplace conflicts and are also have a higher rate of burnout and psychological impact than older Canadians.


  • Employees from across the country feel similarly about psychological health in the workplace, with notable differences. Overall, those in Atlantic Canada tend to feel the most positively about their workplace.


  • Employees working in the sector called Finances, Legal and Insurance feel most positively about psychological health and safety in their workplaces.  
  • Those in Healthcare are most likely to report low levels of psychological health and safety in the workplace and are more likely to experience burnout, traumas, discrimination, harassment and to be treated unfairly due to mental health.  
  • Unionized employees feel less positively about psychological health and safety and are at a higher risk for burnout and all unfair treatments.  
  • While managers generally feel more positively, they have a higher rate of burnout.  
  • Those in smaller organizations tend to be more positive, and less likely to experience burnout, trauma or other impacts on psychological health.

Personal circumstance

  • People of visible minority:
    • Are more likely to feel discrimination in the workplace and feel they have less control over their environment in a number of ways.  
    • Are more likely to experience burnout and to feel bullying, microaggressions and loneliness. 
  • Those in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community:
    • Feel discrimination, as well as feeling unsafe and unprotected in the workplace.  
    • Have high levels of burnout and bullying and are more likely to have experienced trauma. 
  • Those with physical impairments experience discrimination in the workplace:
    • When they also have chronic pain, feel less supported, less celebrated, less likely to find work-life balance and more likely to burn out.  
  • Those with mental impairments/mood disorders:
    • Feel less equipped to handle their jobs and to find work-life balance.  
    • Are more likely to experience burn out and trauma, and to feel they're mistreated due to their mental health.

To review the survey results in more detail, see the full report.

Click here to view a summary of psychosocial factors that contribute to psychological health and safety, and the percentage of Canadians who indicate a positive experience.


Methodology: On behalf of MHRC, Pollara Strategic Insights conducted an online survey among a randomly selected, reliable sample of N=5,510 adult (18+) Canadians.

Weighting: National results have been weighted by the most current census data in terms of gender, age, and region to ensure the total sample is representative of the population as a whole.

Field Window: Nov. 25, 2021 to Dec. 8, 2021.

Reliability: As a guideline, a probability sample of this size carries a margin of error of ± 1.3%, 19 times out of 20.  The margin of error is larger for sub-segments. 

How the results will be used

  • Workplace Strategies for Mental Health will share the survey results with researchers, academics and other interested parties who wish to analyze the vast amounts of raw data to learn more about psychological health and safety for the benefit of all. 
  • Workplace Strategies will use the Guarding Minds at Work results to support the continual improvement of this resource.
  • Workplace Strategies will also look at the experience of marginalized populations in the workplace and collaborate with experts in inclusivity across the country to help develop resources to improve inclusion for all employees. These resources will be available by early 2023, in English and French, for all employers who want to make a positive difference for their workforce. 

Advisory group members

The development of the survey was informed by an advisory group which included:

  • Akela Peoples, CEO & Michael Cooper, VP, Mental Health Research Canada
  • Alison Akkerman, AVP, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, Canada Life
  • Dr. Bill Howatt, CEO, Howatt HR Consulting
  • Claudine Cousins, CEO, Empower Simcoe 
  • Dave Gallson, National Executive Director, Mood Disorders Society of Canada (MDSC)
  • Denis St. Jean, National Health and Safety Officer, Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC)
  • Emma Ashurst, Senior Occupational Health and Safety Specialist, Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)
  • Jennifer Feeney-Svab, Director of Wellness and Mental Health, Treasury Board Secretariat
  • Julie Foxcroft, Workplace Program Executive/Senior Consultant/Executive Coach, IBM
  • Katherine Coons, National Workplace Mental Health Specialist, Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) National
  • Kerilee Snatenchuk, Director of People & Culture, ATB Financial
  • Kristin Bower, Founding Partner, Leda HR
  • Liz Hovarth, Manager at Workplace Mental Health, Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC)
  • Mary Ann Baynton, Director of Strategy and Collaboration, Workplace Strategies for Mental Health
  • Megan McIlmoyl, Senior Communications Specialist, Canada Life
  • Michael Herman, Partner, Gowlings WLG
  • Dr. Nicholas Carleton, Workplace Mental Health Specialist, University of Saskatchewan
  • Sartaj Sarkaria, Chief Diversity Officer/Vice President, Canadian Marketing Association
  • Wayne Clancy, Founder/CEO, MindSuite Metrics
Contributors include.articlesDavid K. MacDonaldMary Ann BayntonWorkplace Strategies team 2007-2021

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