Cover Story

Get well soon: Manitoba Blue Cross brings wellness to everyone

Wellness. It’s a word we hear a lot these days, and many of us are concerned about our personal wellness and the wellness of our loved ones. But, what does wellness really mean, and how can we know if we’re well?

“Wellness is about more than just physical and mental health. To best help Manitobans, we need to acknowledge this and take a more holistic approach in the supports we provide to individuals and companies,” says Benjamin Graham, president and CEO of Manitoba Blue Cross.

Manitoba Blue Cross has really dived into the complex matter of wellness and what makes us well or unwell, with a focus on six wellness dimensions that together help nurture the whole mind and body: physical, emotional, occupational, financial, social and intellectual.

All six are connected and interdependent on one another, and all play a major role in our overall wellness. For example, a stressful job, which impacts occupational wellness, can wreak havoc on your emotional and physical wellness. Repercussions can range from insomnia and anxiety to headaches and ulcers. It’s the same with all six dimensions. If one or more of these is poor, it can negatively affect one or more of the others.

On the flipside, fulfilment in the dimensions has the opposite effect. If you’re feeling well socially, it can have a positive impact on how you feel emotionally and physically. If you love your job, it can improve your intellectual and financial wellness. Simply put, your overall well-being is fostered by the many facets of your life.

The first and only
Manitoba Blue Cross looked at how to support people in their wellness journey based on these six dimensions. That work has culminated in the launch of their new digital wellness plan and online platform this year. The “one-stop shop” platform is available now for all Manitobans to determine where they are in their wellness journey, how they can improve and access resources to support them based on their ever-changing needs.

The platform is free to join for all Manitobans and completely confidential. A Manitoba Blue Cross membership is not required. It’s there for everyone. The wellness plan, which resides on the platform, unlocks a range of additional resources and services that can further support well-being, and is available for only $60 annually.

The wellness plan is also available to Manitoba organizations that want to encourage their employees to do more for their wellness.

“Most health benefits providers offer services to address issues when they happen, like medical services or disability insurance,” says Florent Thézard, wellness team leader at Manitoba Blue Cross. “The digital wellness plan is the first benefit entirely focused on prevention. It’s the first of its kind in North America, and it’s available for every Manitoban and for Manitoba companies who want to better support the wellness of their team.”

When you have a happy team, everyone benefits. When employees are feeling well, they are more engaged, productive, resilient and more present at work. Plus, those benefits also reach your bottom line, which is good for your organization.

“The goal of the digital wellness plan and platform is to positively impact the lives of all Manitobans,” says Thézard. “By making time for wellness now, you can help avoid making time for illness later. It’s far easier to take small steps to resolve or prevent issues now than spend far more time and energy dealing with those larger issues later.”

That goes for individuals and organizations.

Photo by Doug Little

Through thick and thin
One of the dimensions not often considered is social wellness, but research shows that social connections are a significant predictor of our long-term health and well-being—more so than our cholesterol or blood pressure levels.

Social connections are an important source of self-esteem, comfort and pleasure. When you spend time with others, it helps to:

  • regulate mood.
  • reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • promote healthy eating, physical activity and weight.
  • support a healthy immune system.
  • recover from illness.
  • improve sleep.

To support both social and emotional well-being, one of the resources Manitoba Blue Cross offers within the wellness plan is Togetherall, an online community that allows users to connect anonymously with others who are going through similar journeys. The accessible online platform is safe and supported by professionals. The peer-support platform complements traditional counselling services, while the anonymity of the community allows members to feel secure in expressing themselves to their peers and helps to normalize the struggles many people face, while clinical moderation fosters a caring and respectful community.

Another wellness plan offering that can aid social and emotional well-being is Torchlight, which provides online parenting and caregiver support for those looking after loved ones. There is a library of resources for parents and caregivers, plus one-on-one expert advice accessible for your specific concerns. There is also a digital community of people where users can share, learn and support one another, live Q&A sessions, and self-care events.

To further support other wellness dimensions, there are additional offerings available including LIFT session, which provides virtual fitness solutions, including live coaching and custom-guided workout programs; a sleep program that can help to resolve many sleep disorders, including insomnia, restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea; and a financial planning and retirement workshop.

All of the services that are part of the wellness plan are virtual and available whenever you or your employees are ready.

Beyond all this, the platform will also allow all Manitobans to access—for a fee—Manitoba Blue Cross’s renowned counseling services, previously only available to plan members.

Doing better for everyone
Getting on the right track doesn’t have to be hard, time consuming or expensive. Doing the right thing for yourself, your family or your team can start today.

“It’s the choice between illness or wellness,” says Thézard. “We all have to pay for one, and the return on investment for wellness is far greater for a multitude of reasons.”

As a not-for-profit organization, the new wellness plan and platform shows Manitoba Blue Cross’s dedication to the well-being of all Manitobans.

“We’re not just a company competing for business and looking to make a profit. We want to make a difference to Manitobans and this new plan does that,” says Graham.

Learn more at

Manitoba Blue Cross
599 Empress Street


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