With opioid overdoses at record levels in B.C., and people’s mental health stretched thin by the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) is launching its new ICBA Workplace Wellness Program, designed to help employers and workers manage the unique mental health challenges facing the construction industry.

Statistics show that more than half the employed people who have died of opioid overdoses in B.C. in recent years worked in construction. And the risk of suicide for those working in construction is seven times the national average. While there are a lot of resources to help safeguard and improve mental wellness, not many of them are tailored to construction workplaces and workforces.

“Construction contractors and workers have much to be proud of in how effectively they’ve enhanced commitments to workers’ physical safety in recent decades. Now, we must strive to create workplace cultures that foster all aspects of worker wellbeing,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA President. “It is imperative that we break through the stigma surrounding mental health, educate workers about personal wellness, and give people the support and resources they need.”

The Workplace Wellness Program will be offered to ICBA member companies free of charge. “With the COVID-19 pandemic compounding B.C.’s mental health crisis, and resources tightening for many employers, we feel it is important to offer this new program free to every ICBA member construction company,” said Gardner.

The program is made possible by the support of Canada Life, one of ICBA’s key group health benefits providers. “We are grateful to Canada Life for supporting our work,” said Gardner. “They are important partners and contributing a lot to our Wellness efforts.”

ICBA’s Workplace Wellness Program uses toolbox talk scripts, posters, short educational pieces, online check-ins, and virtual professional development courses, to address key wellness issues such as:

  • Mental health stigma
  • Respectful workplaces
  • Physical health
  • Pain avoidance and addictions
  • Suicide prevention
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Psychological safety in the workplace
  • Cancer awareness
  • Financial fitness

“The ICBA Workplace Wellness Program was developed specifically for the construction industry and designed to create lasting change,” said Gardner. “It’s holistic and comprehensive – a full year program, developed with the support of leading experts on mental health.”

Founded 46 years ago today, on April 26, 1975, ICBA has grown into an association representing more than 3,300 members and clients, together employing close to 100,000 people. Its top-notch training programs have long put a high priority on worker safety, and ICBA’s Workplace Wellness Program is the next step in that effort.

“It’s fitting that we are launching ICBA’s new Workplace Wellness Program on the 46th anniversary of our founding,” said Gardner. “As we rebuild our economy after COVID-19, we must also ensure that we are rebuilding our people. We have to learn how to start conversations and remove the stigma associated with mental health.”

ICBA’s spring 2021 Construction Monitor focuses on mental health, with statistics and infographics relating to construction. Click HERE to see it.

For more on ICBA’s Workplace Wellness Program, visit icba.ca/wellness.

In an op-ed released today (click HERE), Chris Gardner shared a very personal story publicly, for the first time, about his family’s experience with suicide.

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The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) represents more than 3,300 members and clients, trains nearly 5,000 workers every year, and is the single largest sponsor of trades apprentices in B.C. ICBA Benefits, one of the leading independent providers of group health and retirement benefits in western Canada, provides benefits for more than 75,000 Canadians. www.icba.ca