Supporting the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ2S Canadians
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According to a 2019 study by Glassdoor, approximately four out of ten LGBTQ2S workers say they aren’t fully “out” at work. Half of those surveyed said they feared this would hurt their career prospects and more than half had experienced or witnessed anti-LGBTQ2S comments from co-workers. At Medavie, we encourage all employees to feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work. This is the spirit in which we celebrate Pride Month in June.
The LGBTQ2S community is an important part of the diverse and dynamic fabric of Canada and of our 6,400-member workforce.
We join in recognizing the progress the community has made in the fight for equal rights – and the work that remains to be done to achieve equality, dignity and greater visibility for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirited (LGBTQ2S) Canadians.
We also recognize the need to address health conditions that disproportionately affect LGBTQ2S Canadians, particularly mental health and substance abuse.
Addressing LGBTQ2S health challenges
Through our Foundation, Medavie is contributing $75,000 to two organizations that provide resources and supports to LGBTQ2S Canadians. The two funding recipients are:
The 519, providing Toronto’s LGBTQ2S community with a safe place for connection and support through various programming, including counselling, trans-specific services, legal supports, housing, community-led groups and more.
Eva’s, an award-winning organization that provides shelter, transitional housing and programming to help homeless and at-risk youth reach their potential. With 20-40% of homeless youth identifying as LGBTQ2+, the funding will focus on ensuring they get the support they need.
These investments recognize that LGBTQ2S Canadians experience mental health challenges and substance abuse at levels greater than those of the general population.*
LGBTQ2S experience greater health risks
Research shows that LGBTQ2S people face:
Higher rates of depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive and phobic disorders, suicidality, self-harm, and substance use
Double the risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than heterosexual people
14 times the risk of suicide and substance abuse than heterosexual peers
77% of trans respondents in an Ontario-based survey had seriously considered suicide and 45% had attempted suicide
Trans youth and those who had experienced physical or sexual assault were found to be at greatest risk
Some research suggests that use of alcohol, tobacco and other substances may be two to four times higher among LGBT people than heterosexual people. In fact, a Toronto-based study found significantly higher rates of smoking among LGBT adults (36%) than other adults (17%).
American studies report higher rates of alcohol-related problems among lesbian and bisexual women than other women.
Strengthening our work culture
We are committed to helping bring about the change that is needed to ensure LGBTQ2S Canadians live healthier lives.
Within our organization, we are continually working to ensure we have a diverse and inclusive culture that lives our values; one that respects and celebrates our differences, including our sexual identities.
These efforts were recognized in a 2018 survey of our employees who commented on the growing diversity of the organization and the inclusiveness of employees who identify as LGBTQ2S. Indeed, 93 per cent of employees at that time felt that Medavie had a work environment that was open and accepting of individual differences, including sexual orientation.
That same year, Medavie Blue Cross was a winner of a national Excellence in Governance Awards for following best practices to enhance diversity. Two years later, there is still work to be done to foster an inclusive and equitable workplace. Diversity gives us our strength. Indeed, it is only by mirroring the communities we serve, that we can truly fulfill our mission of improving the wellbeing of Canadians.