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Professional Learning Programs, presented by the University of Toronto Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources with Lancaster House

Promoting Mental Health: Implementing and maintaining a comprehensive workplace psychological health and safety management system


June 22 - 23, 2020 (two-day program)
Waters Lounge, Woodsworth College Residence, University of Toronto



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In association with:


Upon completion of this program, participants will receive a certificate of completion from the University of Toronto's Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources (CIRHR).



 

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Planning for this event continues during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are actively monitoring and meeting all government requirements and limitations on events and travel such as capping attendance and ensuring space for social distancing, as well as offering remote participation. We will advise of any changes or postponement of the event as soon as we are able.

Session Leaders

Prof. Rafael Gomez
Director, Centre for Industrial Relations
and Human Resources (CIRHR)
University of Toronto

Rafael Gomez is the Director of the University of Toronto's Centre for Industrial Relations & Human Resources and an Associate Professor in Industrial Relations and Human Resources (University of Toronto). He currently holds a cross-appointment at Woodsworth College and the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources. He received a B.A.

in Economics and Political Science from York University (Glendon College), and an M.A. in Economics and Ph.D in Industrial Relations from the University of Toronto. After graduating in 2000, he went on to teach at the London School of Economics as a Senior Lecturer in Management. He has been invited to conduct research and lecture in universities and research institutes around the world, including in such cities as Madrid, Moscow, Munich and Zurich. He has worked with both public and private sector organizations on various research projects and has presented his findings at over 50 national and international conferences. Rafael has published in numerous journals, including the British Journal of Industrial Relations, Journal of Population Economics, Canadian Public Policy, and the Canadian Journal of Economics. In January 2006, he was awarded the Labor and Employment Relations Association's 2005 John T. Dunlop Outstanding Scholar Award for exceptional contributions to international and comparative labour and employment research. He is also currently the Director and Co-founder of ThinkTankToronto (TTT), a social enterprise established in 2005, whose mandate is to document, study and promote cultural innovation in the City of Toronto and other urban locations around the globe.

Emile Tompa
Program Leader,
Senior Scientist
Institute for Work & Health

Dr. Emile Tompa is a senior scientist at the internationally respected Institute for Work & Health and Co-Director of the Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy (CRWDP). His research focuses on identifying effective workplace strategies that improve the health and wellbeing of workers and the bottom line of employers. His expertise in this area was

instrumental in the development of an important new standard for Canadian workplaces, CSA Z1011, Work Disability Management Systems, for which he chaired the technical committee. The standard will help workplaces reduce injury recurrences and absences due to disability, improve operational performance, increase worker productivity and engagement, and reduce workers' compensation costs.

Emile also teaches Occupational Health and Safety at the University of Toronto's Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources and holds appointments as associate professor in the Department of Economics at McMaster University and assistant professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.

Emile holds an M.B.A. from the University of British Columbia, an M.A. in economics from the University of Toronto, and a Ph.D. in economics from McMaster University.



Program

Too often, workplaces deal with mental health in a reactive way. Workers with mental health conditions may be accommodated under human rights policies and legislation, and workers who have experienced traumatic events may be granted workers' compensation benefits. Yet it is now recognized that a reactive approach is inadequate. Given the changing nature of work and developing legal obligations, proactive approaches to employee mental health are increasingly called for.

With this in mind, Lancaster House and the University of Toronto's Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources have developed a professional learning program for labour relations professionals who are interested in implementing and/or improving a comprehensive workplace psychological health and safety management system in their workplace.

This program, led by Emile Tompa, a senior scientist at the internationally respected Institute for Work & Health and Co-Director of the Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy (CRWDP), will provide participants with the latest evidence-based guidance on ensuring workplace psychological health and safety, emphasizing collaborative union-management strategies.

You should register for this intensive, two-day training session if you want to

  • reduce the financial and human hardships associated with poor mental health in the workplace;
  • be prepared to meet emerging legal obligations regarding worker mental health;
  • enhance worker mental health knowledge and promote mental health resilience;
  • promote a workplace culture that is supportive of worker psychological health and safety;
  • establish early intervention programs for workers developing mental health problems;
  • help workers with psychological health problems stay at work and remain productive;
  • ensure managers and supervisors have the knowledge and skills to address worker health needs;
  • create a roadmap for implementing the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace;
  • improve worker experience and engagement; and
  • apply the best and most recent research to your workplace.


Agenda


Agenda — Day One

Please Note: This schedule is a draft only and is subject to change.

University of Toronto 2020 Learning Program agenda thumbnail

View the full agenda
in PDF format

8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

BREAKFAST


9:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.

 INTRODUCTION 


Professor Rafael Gomez, Director of the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources, will introduce the program.

Professor Emile Tompa, Director of the Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy, will present the agenda for two-day program with a focus on the first day.

9:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

 PART 1  Workplace psychological health and safety: Key concepts and impetus for action


Topics to be discussed include the following:

  • What is "psychological health and safety in the workplace"? Why is it important?
  • What is the business case for ensuring workplace psychological health and safety?
  • How is the changing nature of work affecting workers' mental well-being?
  • How are regulators, employers, unions, and other stakeholders in Canada currently addressing psychological health and safety?
  • What is the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace? How has it been received by employers and unions/labour? How can this standard help organizations take action and promote mental health in the workplace?
  • What Canadian and international examples of organizational leadership in the area of psychological health and safety in the workplace exist?

Exercise: Case study discussion to consider and identify key success factors.

10:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

MORNING BREAK


10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

 PART 2  The legal context: Meeting minimum obligations


  • Do employers have a legal duty to ensure that the way they manage the workplace does not cause workers undue stress?
  • How broad is the general Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) duty to "take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker" as it pertains to psychological safety in the workplace? Do adjudicators look to the National Standard to determine the scope of this duty?
  • Does workplace stress constitute a "danger" justifying a worker's refusal to work under health and safety legislation?
  • Should parties negotiate detailed psychological health and safety provisions into collective agreements or negotiate only general collective agreement language and leave the details to joint policies and/or joint union-management committees (or possibly joint health and safety committees)?
  • Is the workers' compensation system the only forum in which workers can seek compensation for mental injuries resulting from workplace conditions? If not, what other remedies exist?
  • What other remedies can tribunals and arbitrators order to directly address workplace conditions that pose a risk to psychological safety?

Exercise: Case study discussion of considerations for the legal duty to ensure no undue stress.

12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.

LUNCH


12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

 TOUR  Industrial Relations Library tour (optional)


1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

 PART 3  Getting started: Implementing a management system for mental health in the workplace


  • What role should the National Standard play in workplace psychological health and safety policies and programs? Is it possible to create a psychologically safe and healthy workplace without meeting the requirements of the National Standard?
  • What are essential steps in implementing a workplace psychological health and safety program? Who should be involved?
  • What do unions, workers, and employers stand to gain from a cooperative approach? Is there evidence that joint strategies are any more or less effective than those promulgated unilaterally by the employer? What are the potential drawbacks of joint strategies?
  • How does the implementation of a psychological health and safety program integrate with work that organizations are already undertaking to protect worker health and safety?
  • What role do existing structures (such as occupational health and safety committees) play in successful implementation?
  • What are the key barriers to implementing a workplace psychological health and safety program? What are some promising practices for overcoming these barriers?

Exercise: Break-out group discussions on developing an action plan for your organization and mapping out the necessary first steps for implementing a psychological health and safety system.

2:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.

AFTERNOON BREAK


2:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

 PART 4  Primary prevention: Identifying the priorities for planning, execution, and evaluation


  • What should workplace parties do in terms of "primary prevention," e.g. changing organizational conditions that may contribute to psychological health problems?
  • How should parties conduct assessments of workplace hazards and workplace risks to psychological health and safety? What factors should be assessed?
    • What types of data and records should be consulted?
    • What tools are available for measuring different indicators of psychological safety, such as worker stress levels?
    • How should worker input be obtained? What role should a union play in gathering and conveying worker input to employers? If surveys and discussions are used, what precautions should be put in place to ensure workers will not be penalized for identifying workplace concerns?
    • What privacy and human rights concerns should workplace parties be aware of when reviewing existing records and conducting surveys and other assessments of psychological health in the workplace?
  • How can organizations use management information systems (MIS) to support monitoring and evaluation and give resource constraints?

Exercise: Group discussion of MIS, privacy considerations, unconscious bias, and worker-centred approaches.

 

Agenda — Day Two

Please Note: This schedule is a draft only and is subject to change.

University of Toronto 2020 Learning Program agenda thumbnail

View the full agenda
in PDF format

8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

BREAKFAST


9:00 a.m. – 9:05 a.m.

 INTRODUCTION 


Emile Tompa will recap the first day and give an overview of the second day.

9:05 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.

 EXERCISE  Getting started


  • Participants will be invited to share tentative plans for implementing a comprehensive psychological health and safety system in their workplaces.
  • Participants should attempt to apply the principles learned during the first day to formulate a tentative plan.
  • Key considerations include priority areas for implementation; developing an action plan; roles, responsibilities, and skills requirements; and monitoring and evaluation.
  • Through this discussion, participants will learn practical strategies from one another while also benefitting from expert feedback.

9:45 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

 PART 5  Secondary prevention: Keeping connected to workers and keeping workers connected to work


  • What should be done in terms of secondary prevention, e.g. identifying psychological health problems at an early stage and providing appropriate support?
  • What assistance should employers and unions offer to address these problems at an early stage to prevent them from becoming more serious? What role do employee assistance programs (EAPs) play? What other resources can workers and organizations turn to for support?
  • What should workplace parties do to help workers who might be dealing with incidents external to the workplace that may affect psychological health and safety (e.g. domestic violence, death of family members)? How can managers/supervisors and co-workers best provide support while respecting privacy?

Exercise: Group discussion of a case study that highlights the priority of keeping workers connected while respecting their privacy and focusing on their needs.

10:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

MORNING BREAK


10:45 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

 PART 6  Tertiary prevention: Stay at work and timely return-to-work best practices


  • What can and should be done in terms of tertiary prevention, e.g. encouraging workers to seek appropriate treatment for psychological health concerns and providing appropriate accommodation?
  • How can organizations best help with coordinating supports and services?
  • How do best practices for tertiary prevention relate to the legal duty to accommodate workers with disabilities?

Exercise: Break-out group discussions on how to implement best-practice principles for stay at work and return to work in different organizations.

11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

 PART 7  Investigating and taking action on incidents


  • What procedures should be established for reporting and investigating work-related psychological health and safety incidents? What should be categorized as a health and safety incident? Who should conduct such investigations?

12:15 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

LUNCH


1:00 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.

 CASE STUDY  Secondary/tertiary prevention, investigation, and remedial action


Participants will apply concepts covered in the morning session to a case study.

1:45 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

 PART 8  Evaluating progress: What gets measured gets improved


  • How should workplace parties evaluate whether their approach to psychological health and safety is effective? How often should reviews of the psychological health and safety program be conducted, and how should they be conducted? What is the union's role in such reviews?
  • What needs to be done to ensure that the evaluation process facilitates continuous improvement of the workplace psychological health and safety management system?

Exercise: Case study discussion on performance monitoring and evaluation.

2:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.

AFTERNOON BREAK


2:45 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.

 CASE STUDY  Bringing it all together


Participants will break into small groups and apply concepts learned throughout the two-day session to a detailed case study.

3:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

 CONCLUSION 


Emile Tompa will summarize the last two days' activities with high-level insights from facilitators and participants.

Rafael Gomez will join other session leaders to review key take-aways from the program.

 

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