Mental health services, digital offerings and affordability among key trends for group benefits in 2022

Toronto, ON (Jan. 31, 2022) – Mental health supports, technology and the digital delivery of services, and strategic plan design to keep benefit plans affordable will be key trends in group benefits in 2022 according to Stephen Frank, President and CEO of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) and Mark Sylvia, President and CEO of Empire Life. The two shared their insights in a recent advisor webinar on industry trends and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Mental health has been brought to the forefront during the pandemic and the demand for mental health services for Canadians is only going to increase,” said Mr. Sylvia. “Insurance companies have put programs in place to provide access to mental health counselling supports and services which often can now be provided online, making them more accessible. People are aware of and value these types of services in their benefits plans now more than ever.”

Mr. Frank talked about the impact of COVID-19 on the industry. “We’ve just experienced a once in a 100-year health crisis, and group health benefits have come through that extremely well. It demonstrates how resilient and well-prepared the industry was to support employers and Canadians through this pandemic.”

“There was a lot of concern at the outset about layoffs and what will happen to benefits plans, but we found employers were very protective of those benefits; they recognized the value in them and took steps to protect them”, said Mr. Frank. “At the same time, our industry stepped up to roll out premium reductions and deferrals to put money back in the pockets of employers and to help keep those plans and benefits in place for Canadians.”

The two leaders discussed national pharmacare and the need for government and insurers to work together to negotiate lower drug prices for all Canadians and achieve a balance between public and private sector healthcare and not jeopardize what is working well today. Another trend identified was the affordability of benefit plans due to the high cost of specialty drugs and the increase in Long-Term Disability claims and mental health services.

Mr. Sylvia and Mr. Frank agreed that benefits are now top of mind among employers, and an attractive group benefits plan may be a key differentiator in helping employers help attract and retain in a hot job market in 2022.

About the CLHIA

The CLHIA is a voluntary association whose member companies account for 99 per cent of Canada’s life and health insurance business. These insurers provide a wide range of financial security products including life insurance, annuities (including RRSPs, RRIFs and pensions) and supplementary health insurance to over 29 million Canadians. They hold over $1 trillion in assets in Canada and employ more than 158,000 Canadians. For more information, please visit

About Empire Life

Established in 1923 and a subsidiary of E-L Financial Corporation Limited, Empire Life provides individual and group life and health insurance, investment and retirement products to Canadians. The company’s mission is to make it simple, fast and easy for Canadians to get the investment, insurance and group benefits coverage they need to build wealth, generate income, and achieve financial security. As of September 30, 2019 Empire Life had total assets under management of $17.8 billion. For more information, visit

SOURCE: The Empire Life Insurance Company

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