The Top Employee Benefits Canadian Employers Offer

Last Updated: 

September 29, 2023

Employee benefits have become a staple in an employee’s total compensation package. Which means that as a business owner, your ability to attract and retain top talent will be affected by the employee benefits you offer. 

There are certain benefits that almost all Canadian employers offer. We’ll go over each of these, and explain the benefits for both employers and employees using the 2023 Employee Benefits Benchmarking report (PDF: 359KB).

Key Takeaways on Employee Benefits offered by Canadian Employers

  1. Importance of Employee Benefits: Employee benefits play a crucial role in attracting and retaining top talent in Canadian businesses.
  2. Life and Dependent Life Insurance: 89% of employers provide life insurance, offering peace of mind to employees and their families. Dependent life insurance is also offered by 55% of employers.
  3. Extended Health Care (EHC): EHC is a well-known benefit covering various medical expenses, and 89% of Canadian employers include it to supplement provincial health coverage.
  4. Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D): AD&D insurance, often paired with life insurance, is offered by 88% of employers, providing financial assistance in case of accidental injury, harm, or loss of life.
  5. Dental Care: Dental care, covering dental expenses, is included by 83% of employers. Good oral health is linked to overall health, making it a valuable benefit.
  6. Long-Term Disability (LTD): LTD offers income replacement in case of illness, injury, or accident preventing work. 39% of Canadian employers offer LTD coverage.
  7. Spending Accounts: Spending accounts provide cost-containment for employers and flexibility for employees. Health care spending accounts (HCSA) cover medical expenses, while wellness spending accounts (WSA) can cover various lifestyle items or services. 38% of businesses use spending accounts.
  8. Adapting to Diverse Workforce: The Canadian workforce includes five generations, each with unique benefit requirements. Spending accounts help tailor benefits offerings to cater to different generational needs.
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Life and dependent life insurance

Eighty-nine percent of employers provide life insurance coverage, which gives employees peace of mind in knowing that should the worst happen, their family will not have to bear the financial burden. Dependent life insurance is offered by 55% of employers. 

Group life insurance provides financial assistance to an employee’s family in the event of their death. The beneficiary (person who receives the benefit) is chosen by the employee. Life insurance can be set up as a lump sum amount, or it can be a multiple of an employee’s salary. 

Dependent life insurance provides a lump sum, tax-free benefit in the event of a covered dependent’s death. Dependents can be a spouse or dependent child. And in this case, the employee is automatically the beneficiary. 

Extended health care

Extended health care (EHC) is perhaps the most well-known employee benefit. Covering everything from medical supplies to prescription drugs, vision care, massage therapists, physiotherapists, mental health supports, travel, and more! And with familiarity comes demand. As with life insurance, 89% of Canadian employers provide this benefit, which supplements provincial health coverage.

Employers designing a benefits plan would do well to consider including EHC within their benefits plans, since most employees will expect to see this as part of their benefits package.

Accidental death & dismemberment

Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance is often paired with life insurance, and the benefit amount is usually equal to the life insurance amount. As such, 88% of employers include AD&D, which provides financial assistance in the event of accidental injury, bodily harm, or loss of life. Again, this benefit gives employees peace of mind. Accidents happen, and employees can rest assured they’ll be able to afford their bills should one occur. 

Dental care 

Dental care covers employees for their dental expenses and typically provides coverage for basic services like cleaning and fillings, major restorative services like dentures and bridges, and orthodontics, such as braces. Employers can choose what type of coverage they would like to provide, as well as per year maximums, cleaning frequency limits, and more. As with EHC, dental care is one of the most understood employee benefit, and 83% of employers include the coverage. 

It has been shown that oral health is connected to overall health, which means keeping employees teeth healthy is one of the easiest preventative healthcare options to promote.

Long-term disability

Long-term disability provides income replacement in the event an accident, injury, or illness prevents an employee from working and earning an income. It protects your employees should they stay disabled and are off work for a specified period. While they are waiting for this length of time to elapse (known as the elimination period), employees can usually collect government replacement income through employment insurance (EI) benefits.

Employees of all ages can benefit from LTD coverage, as one can never predict when an illness or injury will occur. Thirty-nine percent of Canadian employer offer this coverage.

Spending accounts

Spending accounts give employers cost-containment, while providing employees with flexibility and choice in how they spend their benefits dollars. Employers allocate a specific amount to each employee, which can be provided monthly, quarterly, or annually.

A health care spending account (HCSA) covers medical expenses listed by the CRA. A HCSA can complement EHC and dental care by covering coinsurance amounts, medical services or items that are not eligible under the insured plan, or for when plan members reach their annual maximum for a certain service or item.

A wellness spending account (WSA) can be set up to cover a wide variety of lifestyle items or services, depending on what the employer would like to cover. Options can include but are not limited to:

  • Gym/fitness memberships
  • Transit passes
  • Fitness equipment (running shoes, treadmills)
  • Hobby supplies (books, sewing material, seeds, archery equipment, whittling supplies)
  • Professional development expenses
  • Childcare/eldercare expenses
  • Smoking cessation
  • And much more!

Companies with a health care spending account represented 38% of businesses, which is synonymous with the 2023 Benefits Canada Healthcare survey that was just released. 

The Canadian workforce is now comprised of five generations, and each one has slightly different requirements from their benefits plan. Spending accounts can help equalise the benefits offering so that all generations' needs are considered. 

Are you in the insurance and finance industries? The industries with the best employee benefits plans will have to work even harder to win the war for talent. However, with these six benefits as a starting point, your benefits plan will be off to a great start.

This is a guest blog post from Benefits by Design – Attract and retain your employees with affordable, customisable, and easy-to-use group insurance plans.

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