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Program recognizes best employers supporting workers living with arthritis


May 1, 2014
By CNW Group

May 1, 2014 – The Arthritis Consumer Experts (ACE) has launched a nationwide search for best arthritis strategies and practices in Canadian workplaces, in a bid to recognize successful employers that are paying more attention to the needs of employees living with arthritis.

The launch of the 2014 Canada’s Best Workplaces for Employees Living
with Arthritis was announced at the 2014 Canadian Life and Health
Insurance of Canada Annual Claims Conference, being held this week in
Quebec City.

"A workplace environment that embraces the needs of
people living with arthritis and provides private insurance plans that
give timely, equitable access to medications and other treatments is
good for business health," said Cheryl Koehn, founder and president of
the ACE.

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"Today we call on businesses that are taking positive steps to address arthritis in their workplaces to apply."

It is estimated there are 4.6 million Canadians living with arthritis.

ACE's
scientific partner, the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada (ARC), will
assist in the selection process. According to ARC's scientific
director, Dr. John Esdaile, there is a strong correlation between best
arthritis practices in the workplace and business success.

“Employers
that make it easier for people with arthritis to thrive in their
careers, and in the process also improve productivity and reduce costs
associated with absenteeism and presenteeism, should be recognized,” he
said.

Arthritis is the most common cause of work disability in
Canada and typically occurs during prime working years, between ages 35
and 50. The impact of arthritis costs the Canadian economy more than
$6.4 billion annually. Lost workdays due to long-term disability account
for approximately two-thirds of this total.

One in six Canadians
has osteoarthritis. That number is expected to rise to one in three
Canadians by 2020. One out of every 136 Canadian workers is living with
rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but that will increase to one in 68 workers
by 2020. Within ten years of the onset of RA, up to 50 per cent of
employees living with RA are work-disabled if left under- or untreated.

Dr.
Diane Lacaille of the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada has conducted
studies to determine what workplace factors are closely linked to the
risk of a work disability lasting six months or longer. She found that
high physical demand, low job independence (i.e. minimal control over
the pace of work and how duties are performed) and poor support from
co-workers aggravated arthritis symptoms and accounted for longer
absences from work.

The application process for Canada’s Best
Workplaces for Employees Living with Arthritis will deliver insights to
further strengthen Canadian companies' approaches to creating a more
productive and arthritis friendly workplace. It is an opportunity for
companies to assess their awareness of arthritis and support systems for
employees living with the disease. ACE will employ wide-ranging
criteria from which to judge and recognize Canadian companies' best
arthritis strategies and practices in the workplace. Categorizing
companies by size (small, medium and large), ACE will conduct employee
surveys, which are taken anonymously, and analyze company practices and
programs compared to other candidate companies based on criteria such as
workstation adaptability, flexible hours, employee education and
benefit plans.

The deadline for applications is 5:00 p.m. EST on
July 31, 2014 and winners will be announced during Arthritis Awareness
Month in September 2014.