Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2021) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2021):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 12, 2020)
Here are some of the reasons why Medtronic Canada ULC was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2021) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2021):
- Medtronic offers a number of flexible work arrangements including compressed work weeks, an earned days off program and the option to work from home -- and recently introduced an internet subsidy of $50 per month for employees working from home as a result of the pandemic
- Medtronic supports a number of charitable organizations each year and encourages employees to be active in the community with up to five paid days off to volunteer -- the company also matches charitable donations to a maximum of $5,000 USD per year per employee, and donated approximately 4,000 volunteer hours on company time in the past year
- Medtronic invests in the education of current and future generations with generous tuition subsidies for existing employees (to $6,000) and academic scholarships for children of employees (to $1,500 per child)
Medtronic clients got critical help amid pandemic
Nicole Martel is living the mission. The 28-year-old biomedical engineering graduate from the University of Guelph is a field service representative with Medtronic Canada ULC, the Brampton, Ont.- based medical technology, services and solutions company whose mission is to “alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life.”
Says Neil Fraser, president of Medtronic Canada: “The reason people work for Medtronic is because they want to make a difference in people’s lives through healthcare. When something like the COVID-19 pandemic happens, it really energizes them.”
Martel does repairs and preventative maintenance on ventilators – the medical devices that help critically ill patients breathe and are crucial to the care of the most gravely ill COVID-19 patients. She works closely with the bio-medical engineering department or the respiratory therapy department of 20 hospitals throughout Ontario.
Early in the pandemic, when airline flights were shut down, Martel drove 12 hours to a community hospital in northern Ontario to fix their only ventilator. She spent four hours at the hospital troubleshooting, repairing and testing the device. The hospital was very grateful to have the on-site support from the company, she says.
“I take our mission very seriously,” says Martel. “I understand the impact that these machines have on patients.” At Medtronic, she is part of a six-person team across Canada that focuses entirely on ventilation. “Since the pandemic, team members have been in constant touch every day, meeting weekly. I know that whatever I run into, I have incredible support to back me up.”
Martel spends four days a week in the field with customers and the fifth day working from home. Medtronic has provided her with the personal protective equipment (PPE) – masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes – to be able safely to do her job. And the hospitals are especially appreciative of the on-site support during this crisis, says Fraser. “There are a number of heroes among our employees who are helping out the healthcare system.”
Demand for ventilators was so great last April that Medtronic globally worked towards increasing its output of the machines five-fold. The company also publicly shared the design specifications for one ventilator model to enable others to manufacture it, including a Canadian company. “We helped them through regulatory hurdles and advised them on how to set up and manufacture,” says Fraser.
Before COVID-19, Medtronic was already helping Canadian hospitals to reduce wait times. This took on new urgency due to the hundreds of thousands of procedures that were cancelled or delayed in the first few months of the pandemic in Canada. Medtronic technology enables clinicians to perform minimally invasive surgery, such as trans-catheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) and pelvic procedures. This means shorter recovery times and earlier patient discharge from hospital.
With the onset of COVID-19, Medtronic Canada adopted a mandatory work-from-home policy that is applicable to 94 per cent of its employees. The company has prioritized employee well-being and communication. All employees have free access to virtual health and wellness programs, including the Not Myself Today program for mental health. “We’ve partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association to inform people how to maintain a good worklife balance,” says Fraser.
He began hosting a weekly (now bi-weekly) all-employee phone call to ensure everyone has a chance to voice their concerns and ask questions. He invited a public health expert to participate in the calls. “This was a voice of reason at a time when a lot of misinformation was circulating,” says Martel.
How Medtronic eased patients into the new normal
Josh Tarini enjoys making a difference in the lives of Canadians with diabetes. Since 2010, he has worked at Medtronic Canada ULC in its diabetes division, first as a diabetes clinical specialist, and most recently as manager of diabetes training and education.
“You can make a real impact on people who live with this as a chronic condition,” he says. “Although my role is almost exclusively managing now, our 20 diabetes clinical specialists often come to me for consultative help with patients who may require extra support, so I’m still indirectly helping people, sometimes one at a time.”
People with chronic diseases such as diabetes are at much greater risk of serious harm from the COVID-19 virus, How Medtronic eased patients into the new normal so managing their condition – including with devices such as insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors – has never been more important.
Medtronic is the largest medical-device employer in Canada – including over 350 employees in Ontario. The majority of staff are located in its Brampton, Ont., headquarters, which comprises the training and education centre, sales, marketing and administrative functions.
Tarini, 42, is among the 94 per cent of the company’s employees who have been working from home due to the pandemic. “The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is ensuring that I’m providing – from a small space in my home – the same high level of support to the internal colleagues we serve as well as to patients.”
Medtronic Canada is helping hospitals and clinics adapt to the new normal. “Overnight, most clinics shifted from in-clinic care to almost zero in-person care, in some cases,” says Tarini. Diabetes patients now have to receive their care from home – on their mobile phones or by video-conference on their computers.
Medtronic customers and their care providers can use CareLink, the company’s online data management software, to monitor their status remotely if they are on a Medtronic insulin pump, continuous glucose monitor or cardiac device, thereby helping to protect both patients and caregivers.
The Medtronic Assurance Program has added a new option for current diabetes customers who have lost their private health insurance due to COVID-19- related layoffs. Now, eligible customers can receive a three-month supply of certain diabetes supplies free of charge. “We hope this would be a bridge to coverage if they are impacted by COVID-related job loss, so they could continue to access supplies for the ongoing management of their diabetes,” says Neil Fraser, president of Medtronic Canada. More than 200 customers have used this benefit so far.
During the pandemic, the company also has emphasized employee well-being and communication. Field service technicians and clinical specialists are provided with personal protection equipment (PPE) when they make visits to hospitals and clinics. “We’ve also sent care packages to employees’ homes with PPE for their families, as well as fun things to do and read,” says Fraser. “We’re trying to maintain connection, show that we care, and are trying to make staff’s lives easier.”
All employees have free access to virtual health and wellness programs, including the Not Myself Today program for mental health. Medtronic partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association to inform staff how to maintain a good work-life balance.
When COVID-19 struck, Fraser began hosting a weekly (now bi-weekly) all-employee virtual call to ensure everyone has a chance to voice their concerns and ask questions. He invited a public health expert to take part in the calls to provide perspectives on the pandemic and respond to health-related questions that they may have.
Looking beyond the pandemic, Fraser says: “More things will be done virtually on an ongoing basis, because there is tremendous productivity in working that way, so we will keep doing education and some types of clinical support virtually.”