Applicable SDG: SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being
In a world that is constantly changing and evolving, we maintain deeply rooted connections to the people we fly, the communities we serve, and the environments in which we operate through our global network. At Air Canada, we understand this gives us both a responsibility and an obligation to demonstrate our values in all that we do. This includes ensuring that our company itself is sustained and stands up for what is right for the long-term interest of our employees, customers, and communities.
In 2018, we undertook a materiality assessment to identify the main sustainability areas of focus of our key stakeholders. Through this exercise, and past and ongoing sustainability initiatives, we found a great alignment between our focus and the Sustainable Development Goals. We are committed to making the Sustainable Development Goals part of the strategy and culture of our company, and to engaging in collaborative projects which advance the goals. To this end, we are proud to have been the first Canadian airline to confirm its commitment to join the United Nations Global Compact, an organization that encourages all businesses to adopt sustainable, socially responsible practices.
While we are proud to support all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, we are particularly focused on the following seven goals: Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being, Goals 5: Gender Equality and 10: Reduced Inequalities (as a champion in Diversity and Inclusion practices), Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, and Goal 13: Climate Action, while always staying true to our core value, Safety First, Always and exercising responsible and ethical business practices. This application is aimed to address our support for Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being.
There is no sustainable development without culture. Culture enables sustainability in a variety of ways, at various levels, by linking cultural diversity and biodiversity, influencing long-term behaviours, building identity, encouraging innovation, and contributing to sustainable management practices. Our culture is our internal propeller and sets the path for our plan of action for our people, our planet and our business, and has been critical in allowing us to navigate and quickly adapt through the pandemic crisis which devastated our industry, seemingly overnight. It is through our culture that we will continue to further advance the goals. At the heart of our culture is our number one central value: Safety First, Always. The foremost consideration in all that we do, the safety of our customers, of our employees and of those in communities where we fly and serve is always our top priority. At Air Canada, we aim to create a healthy and rewarding work environment where everyone can excel and realize their full potential. We seek to inspire, encourage, and challenge our employees to be the best in all that they do. We are committed to contributing to the socio-economic growth and wellness of communities in which we operate and, together with our suppliers and customers, seek to make a positive difference in the lives of people in need across Canada through financial and in-kind support. In order to accomplish this, we understand that we need to foster a healthy environment which prioritizes and encourages good health and well-being, providing resources, supporting worthy causes, and partnering with organizations to further our impact with both our employees and our communities.
Our Corporate Well-being program for our employees has a 4-prong approach: (1) overall health and wellness, (2) mental health, (3) financial health, and (4) work health. Air Canada is also invested in the health and well-being of its communities and works through our community partnerships and the Air Canada Foundation to support related causes and charitable organizations and their programs that contribute to the health and well-being of those in need.
Our journey of building and nurturing our culture at Air Canada has earned us deep, emotional connections with our employees. We nurture these connections through ongoing partnerships with our unions and active listening, including formal mechanisms such as ongoing employee engagement surveys and a variety of informal measures. This investment has led to us consistently ranking as a leader for employment practices and engagement. Satisfied, safe, healthy, and engaged employees make for satisfied customers and positive contributions to the wellness of our communities.
One of our primary health and wellness employee initiatives at Air Canada is our Corporate Well-being Program. It offers personalized programs to employees and equips them with various resources, tools, and expert advice on things like health and financial management and overall well-being. Employees have access to LifeSpeak, a total well-being platform which gives employees and their family members instant access to information and expert advice on topics from physical and mental health, to relationships, financial health, and caregiving.
Employees at Air Canada are also provided with a wealth of resources and discounts that help minimize barriers to health and wellness related knowledge and activities:
Employees are provided with comprehensive group benefit coverage that ensure protection in areas of health and dental care costs, income security in the case of disability, and life insurance benefits in the event of injury or death. Some employees also have access to a health spending and/or wellness account. Employees are given the flexibility of selecting benefits packages that cater to their individual and family needs.
Employee groups also benefit from the Employee and Family Assistance program (or other similar programs), a confidential and voluntary support service with immediate help for any work, health, or life concern, which is available 24/7. These resources have been leveraged and regularly communicated to employees throughout the pandemic so employees can receive the support they need. Additionally, we have provided training to managers to raise awareness and sensitize managers around the importance of mental health in the workplace so they can best support employees. Other professional services are also offered to most groups of employees.
Flexible policies at Air Canada allow for the accommodation of a variety of situations, including providing reduced work weeks to help employees prepare for retirement. Other personal leave policies include:
Under certain collective agreements, Air Canada may also grant a leave of absence, without pay, for up to six months, to female employees for the purpose of continuing breastfeeding.
Air Canada Foundation (ACF):
Air Canada supports its employees’ community engagement and in addition to providing volunteer opportunities, provides support for initiatives and charitable organizations they are personally involved with outside the Company.
Air Canada is actively engaged in encouraging good health and well-being through precautionary and preventative measures when it comes to issues of addiction with drugs and alcohol. The use of intoxicating substances jeopardizes job performance and creates safety hazards for employees and the public. We take seriously our responsibility to maintain a safe workplace (and related operations), free from the adverse effects of intoxicating substances, including alcohol and drugs, and have an effective policy on drugs and alcohol in place. This policy is a component of our overall safety program. Through our LifeSpeak quarterly campaigns, we launched an Addiction/Resilience campaign that centered on recognizing various ways in which addiction can manifest and its effects on the people around us. Experts shared advice on recovering and building resilience to stay sober. Topics included digital addiction in children, overcoming relapses, and harnessing the power of mindfulness to get well.
It is important to Air Canada to monitor and evaluate its programs to determine growth, opportunities and impact. To determine the impact of our programs which contribute toward the advancement of Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being, we assess our Corporate Well-being Program both internally and through third-party assessments. In 2019, a third-party assessment was conducted, and we achieved Bronze certification with Excellence Canada on mental health in the workplace. In addition to third-party assessments, Air Canada performs its own internal assessments. This past year, two quarters from 2017 (pre-Corporate Well-being Program) and the two same quarters from 2019 (post-Corporate Well-being Program) were selected to compare. Between 2017 and 2019, the internal assessment showed the following results:
We believe it is reasonable to attribute some of the improvement to the Corporate Well-being Program.
In addition to our Corporate Well-being Program, we monitor the impact of the Air Canada Foundation. In 2019, the Air Canada Foundation raised more than $2 million net, a record-breaking number to be redistributed to charitable organizations dedicated to the health and well-being of children and youth in Canada. To date in 2020, it has donated more than $2.4 million to charitable organizations for programs dedicated to the health and well-being of children and youth in Canada. In 2020, the Air Canada Foundation released its first annual Impact Report, detailing its initiatives, programs and support for charitable partners impacting the lives of children, youth and families across Canada. The following list shows some of the impact our fundraising has had on our hospital partners through Children’s Miracle Network (CMN), including equipment purchased and programs funded:
Aeroplan Members also donated over 10 million Aeroplan points towards the Hospital Transportation Program which helps sick children access the medical care they need away from home. In 2019, the Air Canada Foundation helped over 220 kids through the Hospital Transportation Program. The Foundation also supported 396 fundraising initiatives, granted 1,211 wishes and supported 315 charities.
Air Canada shares its commitments to its employees and communities in various ways, including annually through its Corporate Sustainability Report. Through this report, employees and other stakeholders are informed of Air Canada’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and our efforts and initiatives that contribute toward them. Regular updates and initiatives are also communicated internally through the employee daily newsletter and the employee social media platform. Updates are shared externally through media releases, newsletters, and social media channels.
On the advancement of Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being, we build awareness in the following ways:
We believe partnerships play an important role in community development and the leveraging of assets for greater good. The following is a list of ongoing initiatives Air Canada has engaged in throughout the COVID-19 pandemic:
The following is a list of forward-looking initiatives Air Canada is investing in, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:
Continue advocating for use of rapid testing to protect customers and employees. In early 2020, Air Canada partnered with McMaster HealthLabs (MHL) and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority for a study on testing that continues to yield results that demonstrate the validity of testing as a means to ease travel restrictions and quarantine requirements. Thank you for your consideration of our application for the 2020 Canadian SDG Accelerators Awards in support of Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being.
Links accompanying this submission:https://aircanada.mediaroom.com/2020-09-03-McMaster-HealthLabs-Air-Canada-and-Greater-Toronto-Airports-Authority-to-Conduct-a-Voluntary-COVID-19-Study-of-Arriving-International-Travellers