September 24th, 2018

// Canadian employers grapple with cannabis legalization

Canadian employers grapple with cannabis legalization; CIA delays commuted value standard


An in-depth look at these and other subjects are covered in the current issue of the Morneau Shepell News & Views

TORONTO, Sept. 24, 2018 /CNW/ - Morneau Shepell released the September 2018 issue of its monthly newsletter, News & Views, in which the Company looked at a number of topics including: the expected impact of Canada's recreational cannabis legalization in the workplace, Morneau Shepell's launch of internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy, a delay in the Canadian Institute of Actuaries' new commuted value standard, and more.

  • Preparing employees for cannabis legalization – On October 17, 2018, Canada will legalize the distribution, access to and use of recreational cannabis, resulting in a level of uncertainty among Canadians. Leading up to cannabis legalization, there is an onus on employers to review existing workplace policies and procedures to prepare for potential issues and communicate changes to employees. Concerns that employers should prepare for include safety in the workplace, ensure workplace policies address recreational cannabis use, providing accommodation for medical cannabis, testing for impairment, providing support in cases of substance abuse within the organization and updating health benefit plans to address medical cannabis coverage.
  • Morneau Shepell launches internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy platform – Morneau Shepell has launched internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy (iCBT), a new digital platform addressing the growing need for mental health resources in Canada. Cognitive behavioural therapy has been proven effective for dealing with mental health problems including depression, chronic pain, eating disorders, anger, addiction and low self-esteem. Morneau Shepell's iCBT allows users to access online counselling in real-time through a blended approach of counsellors and the online platform, providing tailored programs to address each individual's specific needs. iCBT targets gaps in mental health treatment available from public and private sources, which in turn reduces absenteeism and shortens return to work time frames.
  • Advisory Council issues discussion paper on national pharmacare model – The Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare released a discussion paper on the options for a national pharmacare model, seeking input from Canadians to be used in a report presented to the Minister of Finance and Minister of Health in 2019. The report requests public input on three main issues: who will be covered and under what circumstances, which drugs will be covered and how the model will be financed.
  • New studies examine Canadians' retirement planning perceptions – Recent studies conducted by the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA) and the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) looked into the perceptions and behaviours of Canadians regarding the financial aspects of retirement planning. In its study, the CIA found that retired and nearly retired Canadians misunderstand aspects of retirement planning, potentially leading to a harmful impact on their financial wellness. The OSC survey analyzed how behavioural insights could be leveraged to offer new initiatives and strategies that plan sponsors could use to help plan members overcome challenges in creating personal financial plans for retirement.
  • CAPSA releases draft revised Defined Contribution Pension Plans Guideline – On July 26, 2018, the Canadian Association of Pension Supervisory Authorities (CAPSA) issued a draft revised version of Guideline No.8 – Defined Contribution Pension Plans Guideline. Key changes to the guideline include a more detailed discussion of the risk factors and other relevant factors in choosing investment options; suggestions that fees should be disclosed on each annual statement and termination statement; and that increased fees applicable to members could constitute an adverse amendment in some jurisdictions.
  • CIA announces delay in commuted value standard – On July 26, 2018, the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA) announced a delay in its new commuted value standard, which is now expected to be implemented no sooner than the second calendar quarter of 2019. The delay follows a move toward increased focus on the long-term sustainability of defined benefit pension arrangements and less emphasis on short-term benefit security. This delay will disappoint some defined benefit pension plan administrators who were hoping for reduced commuted value payouts under the new standard.
  • Tracking the funded status of pension plans as at August 31, 2018 – Morneau Shepell shared the changes in the financial position of a typical defined benefit plan with an average duration since December 31, 2017. The graph in the newsletter shows the impact of three typical portfolios on plan assets and the effect of interest rate changes on solvency liabilities of medium duration.
  • Impact on pension expense under international accounting as at August 31, 2018 – Morneau Shepell showed the expense impact for a typical pension plan that starts the year at an arbitrary value of 100 (expense index). Since the beginning of the year, the pension expense has decreased by 5 per cent (for a contributory plan) due to an increase in discount rates.

About Morneau Shepell
Morneau Shepell is the only human resources consulting and technology company that takes an integrated approach to employee well-being, health, benefits and retirement needs. The Company is the largest administrator of retirement and benefits plans and the largest provider of integrated absence management solutions in Canada. LifeWorks by Morneau Shepell is a total well-being solution that combines employee assistance, wellness, recognition and incentive programs. As a leader in strategic HR consulting and innovative pension design, the Company also helps clients solve complex workforce problems and provides integrated productivity, health and retirement solutions.  Established in 1966, Morneau Shepell serves approximately 24,000 clients, ranging from small businesses to some of the largest corporations and associations.  With more than 4,500 employees in offices across North America, Morneau Shepell provides services to organizations around the globe. Morneau Shepell is a publicly-traded company on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: MSI). For more information, visit

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