Bell Canada makes $1M donation to mental health in Alberta
Colleen Schmidt, CTV Calgary
Published Wednesday, October 8, 2014 12:11PM MDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 8, 2014 7:11PM MDT
Canada's biggest company has made a big contribution to help combat mental health issues in Alberta.
Bell Canada CEO George Cope spoke to Calgary's Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday about the importance of workplace mental health.
“I think the big issue for companies is really to recognize their responsibility for leading the wellness of our employees, but if you look at the research, one area that I think everyone would admit that we probably haven’t been where we need to be, is in the area of mental health and how we deal with our employees in that area, so we have workplace standards now that we can follow, there’s programs now that have been designed, that I talked about, that companies can adopt,” said Cope.
Cope told Calgary's business elite that mental health issues are the single largest cause of both short and long term disability claims in Canada.
“About 35 percent of a company’s short term or long term disability costs are people who are suffering in the area of mental illness. That is the most expensive area and of course the challenge is to help those people get back to work and be productive because it’s a very important part of their recovery,” he said.
Cope says Bell is trying to get other companies to also be part of the solution.
“So if we have a productive program, going forward, clearly we get people back to work. It’s good for their well-being, it’s good for the economy and everybody’s a winner, particularly the families feel the respect from the company, if they’re not doing well and they’ve got the support of where they go every day,” said Cope.
Bell Canada's ‘Let’s Talk’ initiative is Canada’s largest single event dedicated to raising mental health awareness.
As part of that initiative, Bell made a $1M donation to the Government of Alberta to provide mental health services to at risk youth in rural Alberta.
The provincial government matched Bell's million dollar donation.
“We think partnering with governments is a great solution because it just takes the money further, which is what we need. This is one area that historically has been underfunded and everyone’s trying to step up to that now,” said Cope.
“There are many more people struggling than those who reach out so any way that we can make it easier for people to learn more, to help themselves in ways that they can help themselves, and if that’s not working, to go to the next step, which is to get someone else to give them some help, that can only be good,” said Dr. Michael Trew, Chief Addiction and Mental Health Officer for Alberta Health.
The money will go toward creating and maintaining a website to deliver mental health information to young Albertans.
“One of the wonderful things about partnering with a company like Bell, is that if we’re trying to build a youth-friendly website, I’m thinking they have the skills to help us do that, so I can’t think of a better partner to work with so I’m really pleased that we’ve got those kinds of interests and skill sets to go with the money,” said Dr. Trew.
Since 2011, Bell has donated almost $70M to mental health initiatives in Canada
Bell Canada is the parent company of CTV.