Skip to main content
Pandemic upends Canadians’ professional future, with one in four considering career change

A transformational journey. LifeWorks becomes TELUS Health. Visit our About Us page to learn more.

Corporate / Mental Health / Canada

Pandemic upends Canadians’ professional future, with one in four considering career change

Morneau Shepell’s Mental Health Index™ for November continues to trend below the pre-pandemic benchmark, led by significant psychological strain

Morneau Shepell, a leading provider of total wellbeing, mental health and digital mental health services, today released its monthly Mental Health Index™ report, showing a consistent negative mental health score among Canadians for the eighth consecutive month. The findings show that worsening psychological health, an increase in employment dissatisfaction and extended mental strain continue to impact the mental wellbeing of Canadians.

The Mental Health Index™ score is -11.1, a slight improvement from October (-11.4). The score measures the improvement or decline in mental health from the pre-2020 benchmark of 75. The Mental Health Index™ also tracks sub-scores against the benchmark, measuring financial risk (2.9), psychological health (-3.2), isolation (-11.1), work productivity (-11.1), depression (-12.5), anxiety (-12.5) and optimism (-12.9). When compared to the previous month, all sub-scores improved except for psychological health, which has declined 0.7 points month-over-month and reached its lowest point since the inception of the Index in April (down 2.8 points from -0.4).

“We’re at a pivotal point in navigating the pandemic. On one hand, the recent news about potentially life-saving vaccines being administered in the first half of next year should bring Canadians some encouragement. On the other hand, we are also approaching some of the most difficult months of the year for many Canadians as we approach the holidays and winter months,” said Stephen Liptrap, president and chief executive officer. “Information overload will continue to be an issue in the coming months. Employers cannot assume that all employees are feeling positive about the new pandemic-related developments and must continue to check in on their wellbeing to maintain a productive workforce.”

Many Canadians consider changing careers, despite their employers handling the pandemic well

The pandemic has created both challenges and opportunities for Canadians, leading many to consider the future of their personal and professional lives and, in some instances, a change in employment. Overall, 24 per cent of respondents indicated that the pandemic has led them to consider a job or career change. Thirty-six per cent of respondents under the age of 40 said they are considering a job/career change, compared to only 15 per cent of respondents over the age of 50 who indicated the same. Additionally, 20 per cent said they are undecided, suggesting a greater proportion of workers may be at risk of turnover.

Since the pandemic started almost one in five (18 per cent) indicated that their view of their employer worsened, while 12 per cent indicated that it became more positive. The majority of employees (72 per cent) believe that their employers are handling health and safety well, compared to only seven per cent of employees that believe it has been poorly handled. Similarly, 63 per cent of employees believe their employer is handling technology well, 56 per cent of employees believe their employer is handling flexible work hours well, and 50 per cent of employees believe their employer is handling work-from-home policies well.

“Employers have been faced with many challenges throughout the pandemic, with one of the most significant being their ability to sustain the relationship with employees as virtual communication replaces in-person conversations,” said Paula Allen, global leader, research and total wellbeing. “Beyond the perception of how employers are handling the pandemic, we’re also seeing that some employees are viewing their employer more negatively than before the pandemic. This demonstrates that maintaining the status quo is not enough and employers need to take a proactive effort to prioritize communication and put the needs and wellbeing of employees first in everything they do.”

Parents concerned about the mental health of both young and adult children

Parents of young children have struggled throughout the pandemic, both when balancing work and children’s education needs while schools were closed, and when navigating health concerns as children returned to the classroom. The most common concerns cited among parents with children under 18 years old are quality of education (49 per cent), mental health of their children (42 per cent), the physical health of their children (37 per cent) and the safety of attending school in person (37 per cent). When considering the greatest concern, however, the mental health of children was the top concern (24 per cent), followed by quality of education (22 per cent). Physical health was the greatest concern for 13 per cent.

Parents of older children reported a unique set of concerns regarding the pandemic. The top three most common concerns among respondents with children aged 18 to 30 include the financial impact of the pandemic (49 per cent), mental health (46 per cent) and job or career impact (41 per cent). When asking about children of any age, a detrimental mental health score was observed by parents whose top concern is their child’s mental health (-20.0 for parents with young children and -14.6 for those with adult children).

About the Mental Health Index

The monthly Mental Health Index™ by Morneau Shepell was conducted through an online survey in English and French from October 25 to November 5, 2020, with 3,000 respondents in Canada. All respondents reside in Canada and were employed within the last six months. The data has been statistically weighted to ensure the regional and gender composition of the sample reflect this population. The Mental Health Index™ is published monthly, beginning April 2020, and compares against benchmark data collected in 2017, 2018 and 2019. The full Canada report can be found at

About Morneau Shepell

Morneau Shepell is a leading provider of technology-enabled HR services that deliver an integrated approach to employee wellbeing through our cloud-based platform. Our focus is providing world-class solutions to our clients to support the mental, physical, social and financial wellbeing of their people. By improving lives, we improve business. Our approach spans services in employee and family assistance, health and wellness, recognition, pension and benefits administration, retirement consulting, actuarial and investment services. Morneau Shepell employs approximately 6,000 employees who work with some 24,000 client organizations that use our services in 162 countries. Morneau Shepell is a publicly traded company on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: MSI). For more information, visit

Heather MacDonald
Morneau Shepell

Catherine Snider
Kaiser & Partners


Source: Morneau Shepell