May 11, 2021 | 10:30 am to 5:15 pm EST.


5 CPD hours


5 CPD hours

10:30 - 11:00 am

Registration and virtual orientation

11:00 - 11:05 am

Welcome remarks

11:05 - 11:10 am

Chairperson remarks

David Almeda

Chief People Officer, UKG

11:10 - 11:50 am

Panel Discussion: Shaping a better tomorrow – Building a strong foundation for mental health and employee wellbeing

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that adaptability is the key to survival, and the disruption that caused chaos within organizations is here to stay. How can HR leaders build a strong foundation for mental health and employee wellbeing to survive future disruptions? How can we create trust, keep an open dialogue to increase awareness, and increase productivity? How do we find innovative ways to bridge the gap and transform mental health and employee wellbeing within companies?

  • Identifying and understanding how employers’ and employees’ perception differ when it comes to the mental health support available to them
  • Adapting mental health strategies in your organization that no longer apply
  • Tips and trends to help HR leaders approach and better safeguard your people in 2021 and beyond


Dr. Ryan Todd

CEO, headversity


Nabeela Ixtabalan

EVP, People and Corporate Affairs, Walmart Canada

Sandy McIntosh

EVP, People and culture, CHRO, TELUS

Sapna Mahajan

Director, Genomics and Society, Genome Canada

11:55 - 12:25 pm

Understanding and Overcoming Persistent Trauma

Humanity is on the verge of a global mental health crisis. Even if we have been spared any health complications of Covid-19 - we are bombarded with images of pain, suffering, death, and despair. On top of that, we have been a captive audience for the constant media coverage of police brutality, riots, mass shootings, and other violent events, as well as record-breaking natural disasters and severe weather occurrences that have shattered lives. This devastation is taking a toll. Compassion fatigue, vicarious traumatization and persistent stress is making it difficult for people to cope, especially individuals in groups that have been targeted by hate and rage. A critical aspect of any return-to-work plan must be an understanding and full appreciation of the impact of various forms of persistent trauma on employees and their families. In this not-to-be missed session, Dr. Conrad shares strategies that HR professionals can use to help their people and organizations, not only survive, but thrive in such a chaotic world.

Dr. Jarik Conrad

VP, Human Insights and HCM Advisory, Executive Director, Equity at Work Council, UKG

12:30 - 1:00 pm

Opening keynote: Navigating the perfect COVID storm – anxiety, burnout, stress

A year of social restrictions, health concerns, and economic turbulence has taken a heavy toll on emotional wellbeing, increasing anxiety, burnout, depression and stress. While HR professionals are trained to deal with the occasional employee feeling this way, companies are seeing heightened numbers of employees who may need mental health support. How can you work alongside C-suite to determine tangible next steps for a long-term solution? In this opening keynote, Mary Ann takes us on a journey of exploring our own responses to this life-altering pandemic, which might just be the key to crafting small actionable steps to help turn the tide.

  • The impact of COVID on our emotions
  • Signs of burnout and how to deal with it
  • Fears and concerns about the new normal
  • Designing practical steps for a better mental-health future

Mary Ann Baynton

Director of Collaboration and Strategy for Workplace Strategies for Mental Health,

1:00 - 1:30 pm

Networking break

1:30 - 1:50 pm

Reducing the Stigma: Why it’s important to talk about mental health in the workplace

Challenging the stigma associated with mental illness takes understanding, education, and a closer look at our own attitudes toward health. Allowing mental health to be “on the table” – to be talked about, to be addressed, to give it a voice, and work actively to develop resources, will help reduce mental health stigma which will lead to better performance, engagement, employee retention, and overall wellbeing. So how do you start talking about a topic that can be tricky, terrifying and without the worry of overstepping? In this thought-provoking session, Dr. Katy Kamkar outlines her view on stigma and how to create an environment where your employees feel heard, respected, and appreciated.

Dr. Katy Kamkar

Ph.D., C. Psych. Clinical Psychologist, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), University of Toronto

1:55 - 2:20 pm

Developing wellbeing initiatives to promote self-care – Fireside Chat

Without a clear definition, many employees are struggling to find the right balance between work and home – leading to overwork, overwhelm and fatigue. Join our experts as they share their secrets on building a healthy foundation that integrates work/life balance, available programs, and self-care strategies that employers can implement to keep stress and burnout at bay.

  • Identifying key indicators that affect overall performance
  • Developing self-awareness to monitor overall health
  • Helping employees find independent solutions to maintain their wellbeing
  • Tips on how organizations can be more supportive of employee self-care

Lilian Riad-Allen

Director, Health, Safety, Wellness, LCBO

Amy Deacon

Clinical Social Worker, Founder, Toronto Wellness Counselling

2:25 - 3:10 pm

Panel discussion – The next normal: Building resilience for a post-COVID era

Teams with strong resilience have the capacity to adapt and overcome challenges in times of uncertainty. The workplace of the future also must acknowledge and embrace a more well-rounded conception of the ‘new norm’. But, with such a diverse workforce, how can you develop resilience and reliability across all levels of an organization? And what does resilience in a workplace culture look like?

  • Creating a culture of support, understanding, and acceptance of mental health discussions
  • Implementing resilience workshops, wellbeing training, mental health first aid, and stress management courses
  • Encouraging physical resilience by adopting simple, healthier lifestyle choices


Joey Raheb

ASA, Senior Vice President, Health Solutions, Aon


Dr. Raeleen Manjak

Director, Human Resources, City of Vernon

Joann Bokanovic

VP, Global Total Rewards, Sunwing Travel Group

3:10 - 3:30 pm

Networking break

3:30 - 4:00 pm

Due diligence: Workplace, mental health, the Law – What you need to know

Employers have a duty to accommodate employees with mental health conditions – and employees have a duty to disclose. However, mishandling situations relating to mental health in the workplace can lead to costly unfair dismissal matters and adverse action cases. Join us for a frank conversation on how to address, identify and mitigate legal risks, and/or more importantly knowing when to step away.

  • What are an employer’s obligations to accommodate an employee and their mental health?
  • How are mental health issues dealt with during an investigation?
  • What are the risks involved in going through a disciplinary process with an employee who has a mental illness?


Paula Allen

Global Leader & SVP, Research & Total Wellbeing, Morneau Shepell


Michelle McKinnon

Associate, McMillan

David Whitten

Partner, Whitten & Lublin

4:05 - 4:50 pm

The tone from the top: the role of leaders in fostering mentally healthy workplaces

Many organizations want to develop a mental health strategy. However, they have trouble gaining momentum and making sustainable change in the workplace. What’s a common thread? A lack of support from the top. Like any other business strategy, a workplace mental health strategy is only as successful as its leadership support.

In this session we’ll discuss how as leaders you can:

  -Play a key role in changing workplace culture
  -Set the standards and tone for your organization
  -Act in ways that support positive employee mental health

Panelists will share case studies where leadership commitment led to real change. We’ll also discuss how you can take care of your own mental health during these challenging times. As leaders, it’s important to support your self-care so you can create an organization where your employees thrive.


Lauren Scott

Director of Peer Support Services, Mental Health Innovations


Philip Mondor

President and CEO, Tourism HR Canada

Liz Horvath

Manager, Workplace Mental Health, Mental Health Commission of Canada

Sheila Avari

CEO, Fusion Consulting Group

Rachel McNeill-Thompson

Assistant Vice President, Product Development and Client Experience, Group Benefits, Sun Life

4:50 - 5:20 pm

Closing Keynote: The great reset: A new, hopeful model for mental health

If we look objectively at how we are living today, mental health challenges being on the rise makes sense. In a culture that encourages focus to be on the self, rather than the collective, we have issues of loneliness, isolation, separation, solitude - not simply mental illness.

In this closing keynote Scott demystifies mental health by drawing from his own experiences with depression and anxiety disorders, while making clear distinctions between mental health problems, mental illness, and overall wellbeing. Scott will leave you with scientifically proven strategies to deal with stress and anxiety, and new hopeful model for mental health in the workplace.

Scott Ste Marie

Founder, Depression to Expression

5:20 pm

Closing remarks

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