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New report calls for better workplace support as unmanaged menopause symptoms take toll on economy

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October 16, 2023
By Talent Canada

Janet Ko, President and Co-Founder of the Menopause Foundation of Canada holds the new Menopause and Work in Canada report. (CNW Group/The Menopause Foundation of Canada)

Unmanaged symptoms of menopause cost the Canadian economy an estimated $3.5 billion per year, with working women bearing the brunt of the costs, according to new report released by the Menopause Foundation of Canada (MFC).

Quantifying the economic burden in Canada for the first time, together with new national survey data on menopause at work and compelling personal stories from Canadian women, the Menopause and Work in Canada report, sponsored by Sun Life, outlines the urgent need for better supports in the workplace. With more than two million working women in Canada aged 45-55, when most will experience menopause, the MFC is calling on employers to take positive action to reverse this trend by joining its new Menopause Works Here campaign.

“Women are too often blindsided by menopause in their prime working years, which leads to a loss of invaluable experience, skills and leadership in the workplace,” said Janet Ko, president and co-founder of the Menopause Foundation of Canada.

“While this hurts employers and the economy overall, our research reveals that women bear the brunt of the impact, losing income during the time when they should be earning the most. Employers have an exciting opportunity to reverse this trend by creating menopause inclusive workplaces that tap into the full potential of women in their prime.


The impact

The economic impact analysis outlined in the report shows that menopause costs employers $237 million annually in lost productivity, and costs women $3.3 billion in lost income due to a reduction in hours and/or pay or leaving the workforce altogether.

Deloitte Canada provided the economic impact analysis for the report, estimating that about 540,000 lost days of work can be attributed to menopause symptom management.

The potential

Employers in Canada have an opportunity to create menopause inclusive workplaces. One-quarter, or five million, of Canada’s workers are women aged 40-plus; two million are between 45 and 55, the age range when most reach menopause.

That cohort is the fastest growing segment of working women and is projected to grow by nearly one-third by 2040. Despite menopause being a universal experience, one in two (46%) women in the national survey by the Menopause Foundation of Canada say they are unprepared for menopause — yet 95% report experiencing an average of seven of its 30-plus symptoms, which range from hot flashes and sleep disturbances to brain fog, anxiety, joint pain and more.

The Menopause and Work in Canada report validates the steep toll menopause is taking at work:

  • One-third (32%) of working women say their menopause symptoms negatively impacted their performance at work.
  • One-quarter (24%) say they hid their symptoms at work.
  • Two-thirds (67%) would not feel comfortable speaking to their supervisor or to someone in HR (70%) about what they were experiencing.
  • Half (48%) would be too embarrassed to ask for help at work.

Menopause Works Here

The MFC is calling on employers across Canada to take positive action to support the wellbeing of their menopausal employees by joining its new Menopause Works Here campaign. Sun Life is the first employer to join the campaign, which offers organizations free resources, including a comprehensive Menopause Inclusive Workplace Playbook that provides simple and practical steps employers can take to better support women at this stage of life.

“Menopause doesn’t stop during the workday. It’s important employers have the right solutions and tools available to support their employees,” said Marie-Chantal Côté, senior vice-president, group benefits, Sun Life Canada. “We know that individuals rely on their employer benefits to support them through all of life’s stages, including menopause. Employers who invest in their employees see the return – through retention, productivity and engagement, to name a few.”

Benefits to employers include reducing absenteeism, improving contribution levels and retaining talented employees.

The Menopause and Work in Canada report reveals 87% of survey respondents believe working women need support through all stages of life, including menopause. The gap, however, between what women would like to see and what is available is stark – nine in 10 (87%) working women feel their employer does not provide, or do not know if they provide, support related to menopause. The most common supports identified as desirable are medical coverage, flexible workplace policies and environmental adjustments, along with general awareness and education.

About the report: Menopause and Work in Canada

The survey data in the report was conducted by Leger Canada between August 2 and August 11, 2022, using Leger’s online panelThe survey of 1,023 Canadian women aged 40-60 is representative by region, education, income, and ethnicity among women that fall into this age range.

The Deloitte Canada research was conducted in July 2023 and was based on the Leger survey data, Canadian labor market statistics, with sensitivity analysis conducted based on studies from the United States and the United Kingdom that evaluated the economic impact of menopause. This independent research report was made possible by supporters and volunteers, including sponsorship from Sun Life.

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