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Telus Health adds two major clients amid bet on employee well-being

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Telus’s health division has partnered with Desjardins and Walmart Canada

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Telus Health has added two major clients to its roster since finalizing its acquisition of human resources services company LifeWorks Inc. in September, as the health division of Telus Corp. deepens its bet that employee well-being will be a lasting trend in the post-pandemic workplace.

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In December, the digital health-tech provider announced a partnership with Desjardins Group‘s insurance unit to supply services to Desjardins members and other eligible individuals from group insurance plans it administers. Telus Health also partnered with Walmart Canada last month to provide a suite of health services to the retail giant’s more than 100,000 employees across the country.

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“Now more than ever, employers are playing a significant role in supporting the health and well-being of their employees,” Michael Dingle, Telus Health’s chief operating officer, said in an interview. “We understand that this requires a balance between a variety of components, not just physical and mental health, but also a series of wellness programs designed to address work-life balance.”

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The B.C.-based company’s $2.3 billion purchase of LifeWorks — formerly known as Morneau Shepell — has helped Telus Health tap into a new clientele: workers. Previously, the healthcare company mainly delivered digital and clinical services to improve individuals’ physical, mental and financial health across primary and preventative care. The acquisition allowed it to expand the health division’s global footprint to 50 million individuals in more than 160 countries.

“On the heels of a global pandemic, the importance of employee total health cannot be overstated,” Dingle told the Financial Post when the LifeWorks deal closed. The increasing competition for workers during Canada’s labour shortage is driving employers to seek ways to attract, develop and retain talent, he said.

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Through its partnership with Desjardins, the insurance provider will be able to offer Telus Health services such as mental health support and other services to over 500,000 plan members, including employees and managers.

Telus Health, now Canada’s largest employee and family assistance program (EFAP) provider, said it customized a solution for Desjardins when they were in search of a new supplier. The program offerings include crisis management, legal and financial support and referral services such as finding the right out-of-home care for employees’ loved ones, whether that be a daycare or a senior’s residence.

Companies are being driven on their own by market forces — without government intervention — to improve EAP programs across Canada, Telus Health said, adding that it’s working with big companies to fill the gaps.

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Telus Health has been working with Walmart Canada since March 2020 to help navigate the pandemic, according to Dingle.

Their new collaboration will help the retailer centralize all of its health services for staff through a single access point created by Telus Health, Dingle added.

Walmart Canada employees and their family members would be able to access a comprehensive set of virtual-first health services and digital tools for primary care, as well as counselling support.

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Dingle said the joint effort will help Walmart associates receive care from trained health professionals offering mental health support to help identify the required resources they need. For primary care support, he said they’d be able to connect with clinicians 24/7 and on demand with both text or video consultations.

Walmart Canada’s chief people officer, AnnMarie Mercer, said the well-being of an organization’s workforce is “paramount” — something that became even more apparent through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our vision as an organization is save people money so they can live better. That absolutely has a direct correlation back to our associate base as well,” Mercer said in an interview.

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