In this age of COVID-19, Canada’s Top 100 Employers 2021 stand out for their resilience.
By Diane Jermyn* Special to the Globe and Mail - November, 2020
Like all organizations, they were put to the test when the pandemic struck. Their response was immediate, with the health and safety of employees as the top priority.
Seemingly overnight, companies implemented new safety protocols at worksites and massive work from home arrangements. Employees grappled with cameras and the latest tech tools as they became accustomed to a different way of working. Most challenging was how to keep people connected and engaged when they couldn’t be together.
With the pandemic far from over, Canada’s Top 100 Employers continue to set the standard for doing business in Canada, with best practices as the norm. Here are just a few examples of the creative and innovative ways Canada’s Top 100 Employers took care of people – at work, at home and in the community.
With over 7,000 employees moving to work-from-home over the past year, Rogers introduced weekly online forums to help people stay informed, including question and answer sessions with the CEO. Many employers launched new collaborative platforms, such as PCL Construction’s “Ideascale” to encourage employees to share their ideas or Thomson Reuters' online hub page to keep people up-to-date while working from home.
Wellness continues to be a top priority, with companies often setting up virtual access to healthcare professionals. Like many, L’Oréal Canada increased their employees' wellness spending accounts to subsidize additional expenses and launched new weekly Yoga@home sessions. ABB Inc. showed that they truly have their employees' backs by providing virtual appointments with ergonomic specialists for those setting up a home office and arranged for employees to be reimbursed for equipment purchases such as chairs.
Stories abound about community response, from firms donating critical care equipment to hospitals to charitable fundraising campaigns, which continued online rather than being abandoned. Labatt Brewing Company adapted its Disaster Relief Program, which traditionally utilizes its canning infrastructure to ship safe drinking water where it’s needed, to produce and bottle over 100,000 bottles of hand sanitizer. The bottles were donated directly to food banks across the country.
Leadership demonstrated when we need it most.
While the selection process to choose the winners of Canada’s Top 100 Employers continually evolves to include new questions that reflect changes in the workplace, the underlying methodology has not significantly changed since the project began in 2000. The competition is and remains a catalogue of best practices.
To select the winners, the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers compare each organization’s policies to others in their industry and region to see if they’re a leader. Each employer’s application is judged by rigorous criteria in eight key areas: (1) Physical workplace; (2) Work atmosphere & social; (3) Health, financial & family benefits; (4) Vacation & time Off; (5) Employee communications; (6) Performance management; (7) Training & skills development; and (8) Community involvement.
Canada’s Top 100 Employers is an annual national competition. Any employer with its head office or principal place of business in Canada may apply regardless of size, whether private or public sector.
Canada’s Top 100 Employers 2021
3M Canada Company, London, Ont. Technology manufacturing; 1,967 employees. Encourages employees to own a piece of the company through a share purchase plan.
ABB Inc., Saint-Laurent, Que. Engineering and technology services; 4,139 employees. Helps employees save for the longer term with a defined contribution pension plan.
Aboriginal Peoples Television Network Inc. / APTN, Winnipeg. Television broadcasting; 147 employees. Offers northern living allowances and housing allowances for its Iqaluit-based employees.
Accenture Inc., Toronto. Professional services; 5,453 employees. Launched a Mental Health Ally program to train employees as workplace ambassadors and advocates.
Adobe Systems Canada Inc., Ottawa. Software publishers; 302 employees. Offers a unique sabbatical program where once every five years employees are granted a four to six week sabbatical.
Agriculture Financial Services Corp. / AFSC, Lacombe, Alta. Insurance and lending for agricultural producers; 496 employees. Offers parents-to-be a subsidy of $10,000 for IVF if needed.
Alberta Health Services / AHS, Edmonton. Healthcare; 47,560 employees. Maintains a comprehensive Health and Wellness Action Plan in support of healthy and resilient employees.
ArcelorMittal Dofasco G.P., Hamilton. Iron and steel mills; 4,791 employees. Offers academic scholarships for children of employees who wish to pursue post-secondary education.
Bank of Canada, Ottawa. Central bank; 1,780 employees. Offers flexible work options for employees, with over 90 per cent of employees moving to work from home over the past year.
BASF Canada Inc., Mississauga. Chemical manufacturing; 1,129 employees. Set employee engagement as a new non-financial target as part of building a successful business.
BC Public Service, Victoria. Provincial government; 31,117 employees. Maintains a longstanding Community Services Fund to support charitable organizations through payroll deductions and fundraising events.
Bell Canada, Verdun, Que. Communications; 37,528 employees. Reviewed and increased maternity and parental leave top-up for new mothers as well as parental leave top-up for new fathers and adoptive parents.
Best Buy Canada Ltd., Burnaby, B.C. Retail; 5,431 employees. Supports ongoing employee development with tuition subsidies for courses related and not directly related to their current position.
British Columbia Investment Management Corp. / BCI, Victoria. Portfolio management; 537 employees. Offers a health spending account and access to virtual health care services, including virtual appointments with healthcare professionals and online health assessments.
Business Development Bank of Canada, Montreal. Secondary market financing; 2,409 employees. Enables employees to give peer recognition with on-the-spot monetary and non-monetary recognition through its Exclamation recognition platform.
Canada Energy Regulator, Calgary. Federal government; 489 employees. Offers retirement planning assistance and health benefits that extend to retirees, with employer premium contributions and no age limits.
Canada Life Assurance Co. The, Winnipeg. Insurance; 10,524 employees. Encourages employee well-being through a wellness spending account as well as offering a mental health practitioner benefit.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., Ottawa. Federal government; 1,988 employees. Created a unified defined benefit pension plan for all employees.
Canada Revenue Agency / CRA, Ottawa. Federal government; 44,224 employees. Developing a dedicated strategy for the recruitment, inclusion and retention of persons with disabilities.
Canadian National Railway, Montreal. Railroad transportation; 18,126 employees. Encourages lifelong learning with tuition subsidies for courses taken with external educators.
Capital One Canada, Toronto. Credit card issuing; 1,334 employees. Launched a Parents@Work initiative to support employees during their transition to parenthood.
Cargill Ltd., Winnipeg. Food and agricultural products; 7,731 employees. Encourages employees to volunteer with paid volunteer days and matching financial donations.
Cascades ULC, Kingsey Falls, Que. Paper products; 7,362 employees. Starts new employees with three weeks of paid vacation and considers previous working experience for vacation entitlements.
CBC / Radio-Canada, Ottawa. Broadcasting; 8,046 employees. Offers an annual $300,000 diversity and inclusion fund to help managers create internships and development opportunities.
CIBC, Toronto. Banking; 36,431 employees. Introduced a new “Purpose Day” to encourage employees to dedicate one day annually to do “anything that helps them achieve their life goals”.
Cisco Systems Canada Co., Toronto. Computer and equipment manufacturing; 1,906 employees. Starts new employees with four weeks of paid vacation as well as up to five paid personal days off during the year.
Citi Canada, Mississauga. Banking; 1,494 employees. Encourages employees to recruit their friends with generous new employee referral bonuses, ranging from $2,000 to $5,000.
College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia, The, Vancouver. Professional organizations; 150 employees. Provides excellent maternity and parental leave top-up payments for new mothers to 75 per cent of salary for 52 weeks, and parental leave top-up payments for new fathers to 75 per cent for 37 weeks.
CWB National Leasing Inc., Winnipeg. Sales financing; 406 employees. Encourages employees to save for the longer term with matching RSP contributions.
Danone Canada, Boucherville. Food manufacturing; 516 employees. Launched a new Canadian Coffee Talk website to help employees connect across the country.
Desjardins Group / Mouvement des caisses Desjardins, Lévis. Que. Financial institution; 40,137 employees. Supported its non-telecommuting employees over the past year with reimbursement for parking, cab fares, daycare and ergonomic home office equipment.
Diamond Schmitt Architects Inc., Toronto. Architecture; 301 employees. Offers learning and development opportunities for individuals at various stages of their career, from paid internships to in-house programming.
Digital Extremes Ltd., London, Ont. Software publishers; 311 employees. Encourages employees to support causes important to them through paid volunteer time and matching charitable donations.
Emera Inc., Halifax. Electric power generation and distribution and gas distribution; 2,309 employees. Offers extensive in-house training programs, including paid internships, apprenticeships and formal Engineer-in-Training programs for younger employees.
Employment and Social Development Canada, Gatineau. Federal government; 28,003 employees. Created an Innovation Fund to encourage employees to share their ideas for improving and modernizing service delivery.
Enbridge Inc., Calgary. Energy infrastructure; 7,627 employees. Features a mental health practitioner benefit up to $2,000 annually in its health benefits plan, as well as offering a wellness program.
ESIT Advanced Solutions Inc., Victoria. Computer systems design services; 467 employees. Supports ongoing employee development through subsidies for professional accreditation and in-house and online training.
Export Development Canada, Ottawa. International trade financing and support; 1,756 employees. Manages a LiveWell program to equip employees with tools and resources to build resiliency and increase mindfulness.
Fidelity Canada, Toronto. Portfolio management; 1,165 employees. Manages a unique Voice of the Employee innovation program to encourage employee feedback with awards for ideas that are implemented.
Ford Motor Company of Canada, Ltd., Oakville, Ont. Automobile manufacturing; 7,069 employees. Supports ongoing employee development through generous tuition subsidies for courses related and not directly related to their current position.
FreshBooks, Toronto. Software publishers; 373 employees. Offers phased-in return to work options to help employees transition to parenthood.
Galvanize, Vancouver. Custom computer programming services; 299 employees. Finds unique ways to encourage employees to connect, organizing #DisruptiveCreativity classes where employees share (and teach) their hidden talents such as breakdancing and yoga.
GlaxoSmithKline Inc. / GSK, Mississauga. Pharmaceutical manufacturing; 2,632 employees. Supports a formal online health and well-being hub that provides information on preventative measures and health screening initiatives and telemedicine services.
Greater Vancouver Food Bank, Burnaby. Food bank; 49 employees. Offers employees who are new mothers the option to extend their leave into an unpaid leave of absence.
Hatch Ltd., Mississauga. Engineering; 3,381 employees. Helps employees prepare for life after work with retirement planning assistance services and phased-in work options for those nearing retirement.
Health Canada / Santé Canada, Ottawa. Federal government; 8,507 employees. Offers employees who are new parents the advantage of subsidized onsite child care upon their return from parental leave.
Hospital for Sick Children, The, Toronto. Hospitals; 5,913 employees. Offers extensive wellness programming to encourage employees to make healthy choices for their physical, social and mental well-being.
House of Commons Administration, Ottawa. Legislative bodies; 1,924 employees. Offers in-house apprenticeships for its trade services department to maintain the intricate woodwork and metalwork of Canada’s Parliament.
Imperial Oil Ltd., Calgary. Oil and gas production and distribution; 5,700 employees. Supports charitable initiatives related to innovation and sustainability, indigenous leadership and strong communities, donating over 5,400 volunteer hours in the past year.
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Ottawa. Federal government; 5,530 employees. Offers an annual mental health benefit of $2,000 and houses the Canadian Innovation Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace at its head office.
Irving Oil, Saint John. Petroleum refining, distribution and retail; 2,876 employees. Introduced the new Good Energy in Action program that offers employees one paid flex day off to volunteer each year.
Ivanhoé Cambridge Inc., Montreal. Real estate investment and management; 1,055 employees. Increased support for ongoing education to $10,000 per year for tuition subsidies for job-related courses and $5,000 per year for courses indirectly related to an employee’s current role.
Kellogg Canada Inc., Mississauga. Breakfast cereal manufacturing; 322 employees. Has donated more than $3 million and 30 million servings of cereal and snacks to Food Banks Canada and the Breakfast Club of Canada over the past decade.
Keurig Canada Inc., Montreal. Coffee distribution and brewing equipment; 1,445 employees. Offered each employee a single use promo-code to order a Keurig care package for a frontline worker of their choice with packages delivered to the recipient’s doorstep.
KPMG LLP, Toronto. Accounting; 8,399 employees. Prioritizes diversity and inclusion, providing formal education on anti-Black racism and conducting a review of current talent processes to better understand and remove any biases and barriers.
K+S Potash Canada GP, Saskatoon. Potash mining; 445 employees. Waived the eight-hour volunteer time requirement to access the $300 charitable donation for those organizations providing relief over the past year.
Labatt Brewing Company Ltd., Toronto. Breweries; 3,417 employees. Adapted its Disaster Relief Program, which traditionally utilizes its canning infrastructure to ship safe drinking water where it’s needed, to produce and bottle over 100,000 bottles of hand sanitizer early during the pandemic.
Laurentide Controls Ltd., Kirkland, Que. Process control equipment and services; 276 employees. Cultivates an ownership culture through a share purchase plan, available to all employees.
Loblaw Companies Ltd., Brampton, Ont. Supermarkets and grocery stores; 27,360 employees. Introduced the new “fl!p” intranet mobile platform that reaches all support and in-store personnel.
L’Oréal Canada Inc., Montreal. Cosmetics manufacturing; 1,468 employees. Launched a new wellness plan that includes free yoga classes, including new weekly Yoga@home sessions, and removed the benefits waiting period for newly hired employees.
Mars Inc., Bolton, Ont. Food manufacturing; 1,516 employees. Lets employees share in the company’s successes through year-end bonuses.
McCarthy Tétrault LLP, Toronto. Law firm; 1,576 employees. Supports employees who may be called upon to care for a loved one through compassionate leave top-up, to 90 per cent of salary for up to six weeks.
Medtronic Canada ULC, Brampton, Ont. Electromedical apparatus manufacturing; 682 employees. Introduced an internet subsidy of $50 per month for employees working from home as a result of the pandemic.
Mondelēz International, Etobicoke, Ont. Food manufacturing; 2,600 employees. Offers academic scholarships for children of employees to $10,000 per child per year.
Mott MacDonald Canada Ltd., Vancouver. Engineering; 174 employees. Offers a number of financial incentives including signing bonuses, year-end bonuses and referral bonuses of up to $2,500.
Novo Nordisk Canada Inc., Mississauga. Pharmaceutical preparation manufacturing; 323 employees. Maintains a unique policy to ensure meetings are only scheduled between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to accommodate employee needs outside of the office.
Nutrien Inc., Saskatoon. Phosphate, nitrogen and potash fertilizer manufacturing; 5,835 employees. Offers extensive apprenticeship and trades programs in a variety of fields as well as leadership development programs.
Oppenheimer Group, Port Coquitlam, B.C. Fresh fruits and vegetable distribution; 142 employees. Hosts quarterly wellness workshops with speakers on topics ranging from women’s and men’s health, to stress management, emotional intelligence and mindfulness.
PCL Construction, Edmonton. Industrial, commercial and institutional construction; 2,829 employees. Created temporary care and treatment “pods” from shipping containers to be used by health care agencies and other organizations during the pandemic.
Pembina Pipeline Corp., Calgary. Natural gas distribution; 2,122 employees. Promotes wellness through a dedicated Take a Pembina Wellness Break campaign featuring monthly themes to address physical, mental, financial and workplace health.
PepsiCo Canada, Mississauga. Soft drink and food manufacturing; 10,395 employees. Maintains an extensive national community strategy and organizes an annual volunteer campaign to encourage employees to donate their time.
Pomerleau Inc., Montreal. Construction; 2006 employees. Created an emergency fund for employees experiencing financial distress as a result of the pandemic.
Procter & Gamble Inc., Toronto. Consumer product manufacturing; 1,555 employees. Increased its maternity leave top-up payment for new mothers, as well as offering adoptive top-ups and parental leave top up for new fathers.
ResMed Halifax ULC, Halifax. Custom computer programming services; 225 employees. Increased its starting vacation allowance to four weeks and offers additional paid time off during the winter break.
Rio Tinto, Montreal. Diversified mining and metals manufacturing; 10,829 employees. Donated
need critical care equipment to hospitals to assist during the pandemic.
Rogers Communications Inc., Toronto. Telecommunications, cable, publishing and subscription programming; 22,635 employees. Implemented a massive work from home program over the past year, including weekly online forums that include question and answer sessions with the company’s CEO.
Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto. Banking; 57,242 employees. Committed to no job losses due to the ongoing pandemic and introduced a daily compensation program of $50 per day in support of employees working on-site.
RSA Canada Group, Toronto. Insurance; 2,923 employees. Offers referral bonuses for employees who successfully recruit candidates from their personal networks.
Salesforce, Toronto. Customer relationship management (CRM) services; 1,514 employees. Offers up to $100 per month for services and activities that support employees and their families such as cooking classes and gym classes.
Samsung Electronics Canada Inc., Mississauga. Communications equipment manufacturing; 573 employees. Provided $250 to purchase technology needed to work from home, including monitors, ear buds, wireless chargers and other tech for building a home office.
SAP Canada Inc., Vancouver. Custom computer programming services; 3,283 employees. Offers family-friendly benefits from a $25,000 lifetime allotment to cover fertility treatments and drugs to an adoption subsidy of up to $10,000.
SaskTel, Regina. Telecommunications; 2,737 employees. Offers the All About Balance program, a voluntary six-week program for employees who want to address their own work-life balance and self-care.
Schneider Electric Canada Inc., Mississauga. Industrial automation and controls; 2,024 employees. Is committed to advancing gender equality and manages a dedicated women’s leadership program to support the development of high-potential female employees.
Sekisui Diagnostics PEI Ltd., Charlottetown. Medical diagnostic products; 150 employees. Offers tuition subsidies for job-related courses and subsidies for professional accreditation.
Shopify Inc., Ottawa. Multi-channel commerce platform; 4,621 employees. Announced a new Digital-by-Default approach to incorporate a “digital-first way of thinking, working and operating” in response to employees working from home in 2020.
Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C. Universities; 3,265 employees. Helps employees stay healthy at home, migrating SFU Recreation programming online and offering six weeks of free fitness classes, home workouts, meditation and stretching.
Stryker Canada ULC, Waterdown, Ont. Medical equipment and supplies wholesalers; 677 employees. Offer longer serving employees the opportunity to apply for an unpaid leave of absence, durations determined on an individual basis.
Suncor Energy Inc., Calgary. Crude petroleum and natural gas extraction; 12,456 employees. Enrols new employees in a defined contribution pension plan with a one-time option to switch to a hybrid plan when their age and years of service equal 50.
TD Bank Group, Toronto. Banking; 53,694 employees. Supported employees over the past year in numerous ways, including additional financial payments and additional days off for employees who were required to come into work during the spring.
Teck Resources Ltd., Vancouver. Mining; 8,480 employees. Offers maternity leave top-up payments for salaried non-unionized employees, approximately 33 per cent of the workforce.
TELUS Communications Inc., Vancouver. Telecommunications; 23,488 employees. Introduced numerous mitigation initiatives for store-level employees as well as hosting mental health surveys for remote working employees.
Thomson Reuters Canada Ltd., Toronto. Publishers; 1,176 employees. Introduced a new Emergency Paid Leave policy to provide an additional 10 paid days as part of its pandemic response.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc. / TMMC, Cambridge, Ont. Automobile manufacturing; 9,601 employees. Starts new employees with 3.8 weeks of paid vacation, ultimately moving to over six weeks after a decade on the job.
Université de Montréal, Montreal. Universities; 5,502 employees. Appointed its first Special Advisor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to formalize the organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
University of New Brunswick / UNB, Fredericton. Universities; 1,746 employees. Recognizes exceptional performance with awards in numerous areas including Excellence in Teaching, Distinguished Service and President’s Medals for service over a career.
University of Toronto, Toronto. Universities; 10,456 employees. Hosted its inaugural race, equity, and action speaker series to provide members of the community opportunities to engage in critical dialogue on racial equity, diversity, and inclusion within institutional culture.
Verafin Inc., St. John’s. Specialized financial software; 516 employees. Maintains a results-focused work environment, allowing employees to work when and where they are most productive.
West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd., Vancouver. Sawmills; 5,301 employees. Allows employees to customize health benefits to suit their personal needs and transfer unused credits to salary, savings or the purchase of additional time off.
World Vision Canada, Mississauga. Charitable organizations; 466 employees. Offers compassionate leave top-up for those called upon to care for a loved one, up to 80 per cent of salary for up to 27 weeks.
Yukon, Government of, Whitehorse. Territorial government; 4,841 employees. Launched a new online learning platform called YGLearn, which features a variety of mobile-friendly online course offerings.
About the Author
*Diane Jermyn is an Independent Media Production Professional. Regular contributor to The Globe & Mail, Report on Business online, Report on Business magazine and other national magazines. Former managing editor of ParentsCanada.