And for brokers with business clients, reducing the costs associated with employee illness and low productivity can be a game changer.
“What we look at is the impact on employers,” says Andria McKay, director, business development (health and wellness) of Sun Life Financial
. “We’re really looking at disabilities and absences. There is an important place for prevention, when it comes to group benefits and working with employers.”
Employee health is at the core of creating a healthy corporate culture, McKay told LHP.
“We know the impact of disability on organizations, and there is increasing pressure to curb the escalating cost from employees who are off work due to injury or illness,” she says. “So moving upstream and focusing on those prevention aspects can have an impact for the employees certainly, and for the employer as well.”
The National Health and Fitness Day (NHFD), which took place across Canada on June 6, brought together a powerhouse group of Canadian companies and insurers to get Canadians moving.
While there are big names associated with getting the message out there, brokers are integral to sending out that message too.
“Certainly if you are a broker and are looking to provide recommendations to their clients, the simple first step is to tell the client, ‘look at what you are already using,’” says McKay. “Some employers don’t even realize that their insurer actually have solutions for wellness programs, and can support their wellness objectives.”
Along with Sun Life Financial
RBC, Adidas Group Canada, Canadian Tire Corporation, GoodLife Fitness, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment have stepped forward to help promote and participate in the first annual National Health and Fitness Day.
“Helping Canadians to be healthy and fit takes effort by everyone, across all sectors,” says the Minister of Health, Rona Ambrose. “The Government of Canada has many partnerships with the private and not-for-profit sectors to promote programs and activities that support healthy living, physical activity and chronic disease prevention for Canadians of all ages. By working together, we can make a difference.”
The numbers associated with poor healthy and unhealthy lifestyles are staggering.
“Look at diseases like diabetes for example. By 2020, diabetes is going to cost $16.9 billion,” says McKay. “For mental health, $51 billion. The economic costs are huge.”
In Canada, one third of all children and youth are considered overweight or obese and less than five per cent of children are getting the recommended 60 minutes of moderate physical activity daily. NHFD is an initiative to get Canadians moving by marking one day – the first Saturday in June – as the day when Canadians get out and get active in any way they think appropriate.
Corporations will focus on raising awareness for NHFD through a social media campaign, using the hashtag #CANMOVE as well as encouraging their employees to show their support by getting up, getting out and getting active.
For the inaugural NHFD, more than 175 communities proclaimed the day, from Alert Bay, B.C. to Hamlet of Pond Inlet, Nunavut to St. John's, N.L.
NHFD was an idea that developed during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games as a project to mobilize the spirit of the Games and create a legacy of improved health for all Canadians.
In December 2014, the National Health and Fitness Day Act, Bill S-211, became law in Canada, as a national day to promote health and fitness for all Canadians.
Healthier Canadians means less strain on Canada’s health care system – and reduced costs stemming from the costs associated with low activity and an unhealthy lifestyle.