A Look at the New Canadian Disability Management Standard

November 1, 2021

For business owners, plan administrators, and sponsors


A new standard designed to help Canadian employers with disability management has been introduced by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). Called the CSA Z1011 Standard, Workplace Disability Management System, this framework was designed to break down the siloed approach traditionally adopted by stakeholders of disability management.

For employers, knowing how, when and what action to take to facilitate their employees’ recovery can be a tricky path to walk – one which the standard is helping to define.

“It really is a key struggle for employers to understand where they need to step in or how they need to collaborate with everybody else that is supporting the employee,” Dr. Georgia Pomaki, leader of mental health disability specialists at Manulife, said in an interview with HR Reporter. “Employers have a lot of questions about: Should we contact the employee while they're off on a disability leave? How should we accommodate? What is our role in accommodations? When should that be offered? What are the things that we can do to perhaps prevent an absence and keep the employee at work?”

“The standard really provides very helpful answers to these questions and… some very specific how-tos and practical help, which I think is very needed.”

Dr. Pomaki went on to add that the new standard will help encourage a culture of employers supporting their employees and are empowered to do so effectively.

Another important aspect of the new standard is its iterative and data-driven approach. Designed to evolve over time to accommodate the changing and dynamic field of disability management, this standard employs several guiding principles which establish its commitment to refinement over time.

This is particularly important as it pertains to mental health, an area of disability management that is difficult to approach with a “one-size-fits-all” solution.

“There are no two people or two health events that are the same, so that's where the flexibility comes in. [And] the success of the flexibility of that tailored approach really relies on how solid the structure is that surrounds [you],” Dr. Pomaki said.

“One of the key issues is, of course, the issue of stigma and the stigma surrounding mental health disabilities. So, this standard really comes to help employers to say, ‘You can be proactive with helping employees, independent of what their health issues are, whether they’re physical health or mental health issues, and provide some very specific, practical support."