5-Star Benefit Programs
Best Benefit Programs for Employees in Canada | 5-Star Benefit Programs 2023 

Benefits leaders unveiled 

Human Resources Director Canada’s5-Star Benefit Programs recognize companies on the frontier of employee benefit plans. 

In placing a significant emphasis on well-being, engagement, and satisfaction, 2023’s 5-Star winners stand out as the best in the country for listening to what their employees value and tailoring their benefit plans to deliver what matters most. 


Ana Brtan
“We prioritize our employees’ needs and ensure we understand what they truly value so we can continue our support in their overall well-being”
Ana BrtanSymcor 


As determined by employees in HRD’s survey, this year’s cohort received top marks for stepping up to create unique packages that reflect the evolving needs of their workforce. 

HRD spoke to a trio of 5-Star winners to understand why they are such strong performers. 

Centurion Asset Management

  • boosted mental health coverage to the maximum allowable

  • mental health and well-being manager training

  • new health spending account

  • rebranded "Wellness Wednesdays" to "Well-being Wednesdays" to include financial health

  • group challenges focused on healthy competition

  • compensation for home-office set up 


Niagara Casinos 

  • generous time-off benefits 

  • an award-winning defined contribution pension plan 

  • $1,500 annual mental health coverage with expanded eligible practitioners 

  • top-of-the-line digital EFAP platform band iCBT

  • unpaid early outs to allow flexibility during slow periods and salaried staff can flex their time where operations permit 


Laura Salvatore
“We’re always looking to gauge what’s going on in the world and in the workplace to build upon existing resources to ensure we’re constantly able to support our employees”
Laura Salvatore Centurion Asset Management



  • topped-up benefit credits to minimize the increase in out-of-pocket employee costs

  • standalone mental health coverage up to $3,500 annually

  • expanded eligible mental health practitioners

  • removed doctor referral note

  • mental health people manager training

  • gender affirmation and fertility service coverage

  • employer-matching pension plan from Day 1 

  • options for those who choose not to have benefit plans 

All 5-Star companies meet the threshold of providing a top-performing benefits program, as defined by two leading experts consulted for this report.  

“A top-performing benefits program needs to meet the basic needs of all employees, then offer customizable additional options based on their needs. The plan should also be grounded in inclusion,” says Joann Bokanovic, Sunwing’s vice president of global total rewards.  

And Sean Raible, founder and principal consultant at Game Plan Total Rewards Consulting, adds, “It’s one that is as flexible as it can be, as inclusive as it can be, and it’s cost effective for both employee and employer.” 

Best benefit programs cater to employee well-being  

As interest rates and the cost of living began to climb, Centurion Asset Management rebranded its weekly "Wellness Wednesdays" initiative to an overarching theme of well-being to help employees with stress by providing financial tips and advice. 

The medium-sized investment and property management company has a laser-like focus on employee mental health and well-being, which includes a new health spending account allowing staff to direct their benefits to meet their individual needs and more comprehensive mental health support. 

“Employees can take this pool of money and apply it toward what is most meaningful and helpful for them,” explains Laura Salvatore, vice president of human capital. “That could be massages, a specific pair of eyeglasses, or additional physiotherapy.” 

By pushing the boundaries of mental health benefits, the company makes it possible for employees and their families to access more frequent assistance. 

A dedication to designing benefit programs with the health and happiness of employees at the forefront has positively impacted Centurion’s workplace culture in numerous ways, including: 

  • retention has doubled, with the average length of service now five years

  • turnover hovering at 1 percent

  • employee engagement and satisfaction rates on upward climb 

“We are still operating under a hybrid work model, and with a focus on the total well-being of our employees, we’re committed to work-life balance,” adds Salvatore. “The combination of our benefits impacts positively on our culture.” 


Jenn Stassen
“Our team works tirelessly to provide ongoing communication and education to remind and encourage use of the coverage and tools associates have access to”
Jenn StassenNiagara Casinos


Pension plan a top draw for employees   

Niagara Casinos prides itself on providing various benefits and perks that appeal to its broad employee demographics. There is something for everyone, from free parking and uniforms to on-site gyms and subsidized meals to comprehensive health coverage that begins on Day 1. 

“Our pension plan is one of the best across all gaming properties in Ontario,” explains total rewards specialist Jenn Stassen. “We offer savings events, retirement education, and ongoing plan information to ensure everyone understands the plan, the savings options, importance, and impact the plan has on their future.” 

In recognition of the challenges Niagara Casinos’ front-line staff faces working in a 24/7 operation, the organization harnessed its full suite of benefit programs to help staff return to work after the mandated pandemic closures. Those benefits and support resulted in more engaged employees who regularly went above and beyond to deliver exceptional customer service. 

Some other impacts of its comprehensive benefit plans include:

  • 99.9 percent of associates voluntarily contributed the maximum pension amount to receive the full company match 

  • substantive increase in customer experience net promoted score over the past 18 months 

  • all health benefits maintained during the 17-month mandated pandemic closure and zero-revenue period  

“In our business, it can be difficult to offer all associates traditional work-life balance perks such as work from home or flexible work arrangements,” notes Stassen. “But we provide a generous time-off policy including vacation, float days, and paid sick days to allow associates to manage their personal and family obligations with their work schedule.”  

Employees at the forefront of benefit plans design 

Symcor prioritizes its employees’ needs by consulting them through various communication channels before making any changes to its benefit plans, an effort resulting in a high overall employee satisfaction rate in HRD’s survey. 

The Canadian business solutions provider prioritizes the well-being of its over 1,000 employees by ensuring they have timely access to support when needed. 

“Putting employees first is the lifeblood of Symcor’s culture,” explains CHRO Ana Brtan. “We value every perspective, and our channels ensure they feel heard.” 

Eliciting employee feedback and facilitating dialogue is paramount, and Symcor utilizes various engagement tools to take the pulse of the relevancy of its programs.  

Those in-depth assessments also capture employee perspectives on its culture, highlighting areas of strength, such as: 

  • achieving a high employee engagement index of 77 percent in 2022, 5 percent ahead of the Canadian average 

  • 95 percent of employees participated in an opinion survey in 2021, a testament to their willingness to engage in shaping culture 

  • manager effectiveness and performance enhancement results also sit double digits ahead of national standards 

Symcor’s employee-first philosophy was reinforced during the pandemic period, driving the company to make impactful changes that eschewed profits in favour of employee well-being. Staff engagement led to enhanced benefits better aligned with employees’ needs, including a hybrid workplace model that allows for greater flexibility and work-life harmony and increased vacation for new hires and certain job classifications. 

“By embracing a come-in-with-purpose philosophy, we ensured that employees had a say in shaping the future of their workplace,” remarks Brtan. “Moreover, we introduced new well-being programs, including meeting-free Friday afternoons, further nurturing the health and happiness of our employees.”   

Specialist and employee overview 

Sunwing’s Bokanovic and Raible of Game Plan Total Rewards Consulting both emphasize the need to meet employees’ medical and dental needs whilst offering flexibility on various other initiatives. In addition, both underscore the importance of customizable options. 

“It’s got to be a kind of multi-pronged approach,” says Raible. 

Employee respondents also highlighted their desire for more personalized benefits with a wish list of nice-to-haves, including: 

  • cultural/religious days off

  • naturopathic care

  • cellphone and home internet stipend

  • four-day work week 

  • birthdays off

  • pet insurance and pet care benefit

  • employer-assisted housing or housing allowance

  • laser eye surgery coverage

  • carry core benefits beyond retirement

  • better support for working parents 

Best Benefit Programs for Employees in Canada |
5-Star Benefit Programs 2023

1,000+ employees 

  • CAA Club Group of Companies
  • Fidelity Investments


500–999 employees 

  • BASF Canada 
  • Bethesda Community Services 


300–499 employees  

  • BlueCat  
  • Centurion Asset Management  
  • CF Crozier & Associates 
  • Coast Mental Health 


100–299 employees  

  • Gaudreau Assurances 
  • Hyundai Auto Canada 


20–99 employees 

  • Improving 
  • Mobials
  • Rise People 
  • The Mutual Fire Insurance Company of British Columbia 


As part of our editorial process, Key Media’s researchers interviewed the subject matter experts below for their independent analysis of this report and its findings.
  • Joann Bokanovic, Vice President, Global Total Rewards, Sunwing
    Joann Bokanovic  
    Vice President, Global Total Rewards 
  • Sean Raible, Founder and Principal Consultant, Game Plan Total Rewards Consulting
    Sean Raible  
    Founder and Principal Consultant 
    Game Plan Total Rewards Consulting



The entry process for HRD’s 2023 5-Star Benefit Programs comprised two steps: an employer submission followed by an employee survey. First, organizations had to complete an in-depth submission with questions looking at three key factors: health care benefits, employee assistance programs, and leaves and allowances. Then, the organizations that successfully completed the submission phase were then sent a link to an online employee survey to be circulated internally. 

To be eligible for the 5-Star Benefit Programs, organizations had to meet a minimum number of responses based on company size: 20–99 employees = 20 responses, 100–499 employees = 50 responses, and 500+ employees = 75 responses. The survey asked employees to rate their company across a range of metrics that constituted the drivers of employee satisfaction. An employer needed to achieve an overall satisfaction rating of at least 80 percent to be recognized as a 5-Star Benefit Programs winner.