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As the pandemic marches on, Greater Toronto’s Top Employers 2021, selected by Mediacorp Canada Inc., continue to demonstrate the meaning of best practices in the workplace, even when the workplace is your kitchen table.

While early physical challenges were greater for some organizations than others – TD Bank Group moved thousands of call centre employees from its contact centres to working from home in just weeks – more complex challenges lay ahead.

As the base for over 40 per cent of Canada’s business headquarters, the GTA offers a culturally diverse and dynamic environment. So how do you keep staff engaged when they’re used to collaborating in a lively workspace? How do you keep communication open and inclusive? How do you help workers stay fit and healthy without the onsite gym? Nobody expected this “emergency” situation to still be with us several months later.

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Greater Toronto’s Top Employers 2021 answered with innovative and creative solutions, such as Questrade’s introduction of weekly virtual yoga and workout sessions online. Employees can also access its LifeSpeak wellness platform for online sessions on everything from mental health and preventative healthcare to financial well-being.

In fact, many organizations became even more progressive in their human resources policies during this time. For instance, FreshBooks increased its top-up for maternity and parental leave, while KPMG added formal education on anti-Black racism and is conducting a review of its current talent processes to better understand and remove any biases and barriers in place for advancement.

Organizations were concerned not only for their own people, but also the community at large. Standouts include HP Canada, that organized virtual volunteer activities allowing employees to continue contributing in meaningful ways – help that included mentoring small business owners, new immigrants or participating in social entrepreneurial initiatives. As well, Holland Bloorview launched a dedicated No Boundaries Support Fund enabling employees to implement unique projects during the pandemic, such as virtual concerts for inpatients, a laptop loaning program for clients and gift bags for front-line workers.

There are examples here from every employer showing how resourceful and resilient an organization can be in challenging times. Read on.

METHODOLOGY 2021

Any employer with its head office or principal place of business in the Greater Toronto Area may apply to the Greater Toronto Area’s Top Employers contest. All applicants must pay a fee to enter the contest.

Competition is tough as the region is home to over 40 per cent of Canada’s business headquarters, with many exceptional workplaces. Here’s how the winners are decided.

The editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers evaluate each employer’s operations and human resources practices using the same eight criteria as the national competition of Canada’s Top 100 Employers. Those criteria are: physical workplace; work atmosphere and social; health, financial and family benefits; vacation and time off; employee communications; performance management; training and skills development; and community involvement. The criteria have remained the same since the competition’s inception.

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Employers are compared to other organizations in their field to determine which ones offer the most progressive and forward-thinking programs.

The Globe and Mail is not involved in the judging process.

More detailed reasons for selection, explaining why each of the winners was chosen, are published on the competition’s website: www.canadastop100.com/toronto.

Greater Toronto’s Top Employers 2021

Accenture Inc., Toronto. Professional services; 5,453 employees. Manages a dedicated mental health group to help educate employees and launched a mental health ally program.

AccorHotels, Toronto. Hotels; 9,655 employees. Reaches out to the next generation, providing co-op opportunities for high school students.

ADP Canada Co., Toronto. Payroll services; 2,220 employees. Provides virtual health care services, allowing employees to connect with a physician 24/7.

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AIG Insurance Company of Canada, Toronto. Insurance; 371 employees. Provided a $725 grant to all employees as part of its response to COVID-19 and implemented a pandemic financial assistance program.

AMD / Advanced Micro Devices, Inc., Markham. Computer technology manufacturing; 2,173 employees. Supports parents-to-be with a generous subsidy for IVF if needed as well as a subsidy to help cover the costs of adoption.

Amex Bank of Canada, Toronto. Credit card issuing; 1,745 employees. Supports lifelong learning with unlimited tuition subsidies for courses taken at external institutions.

Arup Canada Inc., Toronto. Engineering consulting; 391 employees. Matches employee charitable donations dollar for dollar, to a maximum of $10,000 per year.

AstraZeneca Canada Inc., Mississauga. Pharmaceutical manufacturing; 884 employees. Offers compassionate leave top-up for those called upon to care for a loved one, to 100 per cent of salary for up to 12 weeks.

BASF Canada Inc., Mississauga. Chemical manufacturing; 1,129 employees. Set “employee engagement” as a new non-financial target as part of building a successful business.

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Bayer, Mississauga. Pharmaceutical manufacturing; 1,395 employees. Offers RSP contributions, a defined contribution pension plan and health benefits that extend to retirees.

Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, Toronto. Law firm; 1,370 employees. Hosts seminars and podcasts on topics such as stress management, healthy eating and physical fitness.

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, Toronto. Law firm; 1,537 employees. Launched a new benefits plan to provide employees with greater flexibility and choice, including increased amounts for mental health care.

Boston Consulting Group of Canada Ltd., Toronto. Management consulting; 400 employees. Offers generous referral bonuses of up to $15,000 for individuals who successfully refer a candidate from their personal network.

Bounteous Canada, Inc., Toronto. Software development; 77 employees. Manages a phased-in return to work program to help employees transition to parenthood.

CAA Club Group, Thornhill. Travel insurance and auto services; 1,812 employees. Offers training and development opportunities for individuals at various stages of their career.

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CAAT Pension Plan, Toronto. Pension plan; 172 employees. Offers generous maternity and parental leave top-up for employees who are new mothers and parental top-up for new fathers.

Campbell Co. of Canada, Mississauga. Food preparation and packaging; 158 employees. Offers a variety of flexible work arrangements and up to 10 paid personal days off per year.

Canadian Standards Association / CSA, Toronto. Testing, certification and related services; 752 employees. Provides a full suite of financial benefits from signing bonuses for some, to year-end bonuses for all, to generous referral bonuses.

Capital One Canada, Toronto. Credit card issuing; 1,334 employees. Launched a Parents@Work initiative to support employees during their transition to parenthood.

Ceridian HCM Inc., Toronto. Human resources software and services; 1,932 employees. Offers new employee referral bonuses, a personal computer purchase plan, subsidized home internet plus discounted home loans and auto lease rates.

CGI Inc., Toronto. Information technology; 9,918 employees. Celebrates exceptional performance through a variety of programs including the peer-nominated Bravo! Award.

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Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, Toronto. Child and youth services; 734 employees. Offers a variety of flexible work arrangements and up to 10 paid personal days, which can be scheduled as needed.

CIBC, Toronto. Banking; 36,431 employees. Introduced a new Purpose Day encouraging employees to dedicate one day annually to do “anything that helps them achieve their life goals”.

Cisco Systems Canada Co., Toronto. Computer and equipment manufacturing; 1,906 employees. Starts new employees with four weeks of paid vacation as well as offering up to five paid personal days.

Citi Canada, Mississauga. Banking; 1,494 employees. Provided a one-time $1,350 payment for front-line staff plus a $100 monthly stipend to cover additional WiFi costs resulting from working from home.

College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, The, Toronto. Professional organizations; 365 employees. Offers phased-in work options to help ease the transition for those nearing retirement.

Compass Group Canada, Mississauga. Food service contractors; 15,247 employees. Offers employees tuition subsidies for job-related courses as well as academic scholarships for their children.

Corus Entertainment Inc., Toronto. Media production and broadcasting; 3,046 employees. Offers a variety of in-house training options such as Corus University and QuickCoach – webinars and online learning tools for personal growth and development.

Cox Automotive Canada, Milton. Automobile auctions; 761 employees. Offers employees who are new mothers the option to extend their leave into an unpaid leave of absence.

Credit Valley Conservation Authority / CVC, Mississauga. Environment, conservation and wildlife organizations; 213 employees. Increased maternity leave top-up for new mothers and added parental top-up for fathers and adoptive parents.

CRH Canada Group Inc., Concord. Concrete manufacturing; 1,202 employees. Helps the next generation of talent gain career-level experience through summer employment and co-op placements.

Diamond Schmitt Architects Inc., Toronto. Architecture; 301 employees. Offers learning and development opportunities for individuals at various career stages, from paid internships for recent grads to in-house Diamond Schmitt University programming.

Distributel Communications Ltd., Toronto. Telecommunications; 300 employees. Helps employees prepare for the future with matching RSP contributions plus phased-in work options for those nearing retirement.

Durham College of Applied Arts and Technology, Oshawa. College; 792 employees. Launched a Work@home site for employees during the pandemic, including online learning, virtual fitness classes and information on its employee and family assistance program.

Dyson Canada Ltd., Toronto. Appliance manufacturing; 155 employees. Offers referral bonuses as a reward for employees who recruit candidates from their personal networks.

Ecclesiastical Insurance Office PLC, Toronto. Insurance; 80 employees. Reallocated funds for its Community Impact Grant to support high priority organizations during the pandemic.

Fidelity Canada, Toronto. Portfolio management; 1,165 employees. Manages a unique Voice of the Employee innovation program to encourage employee feedback.

First Capital REIT, Toronto. Real estate development and management; 371 employees. Offers tuition subsidies for job-related courses and subsidies for professional accreditation.

Fleet Complete, Toronto. Fleet and mobile resource tracking; 278 employees. Cultivates an ownership culture through a share purchase plan available to all employees.

Fluidigm Canada Inc., Markham. Biological research and development; 184 employees. Partners with post-secondary institutions to hire co-op students and paid interns.

Ford Motor Company of Canada, Ltd., Oakville. Automobile manufacturing; 7,069 employees. Supports ongoing employee development through generous tuition subsidies for courses related and not directly related to their current position.

FreshBooks, Toronto. Software publishers; 373 employees. Offers flexible work hours, work from home options and paid personal days that can be scheduled as needed.

Fuller Landau LLP, Toronto. Accounting; 125 employees. Provides maternity leave top-up payments for employees who are new mothers.

Fundserv Inc., Toronto. Financial transaction processing; 100 employees. Offers generous referral bonuses as an incentive for employees to recruit candidates from their personal networks.

General Mills Canada Corp., Mississauga. Food manufacturing; 679 employees. Manages a Hometown Grant program, allowing employees to nominate charities of their choice for a grant of up to $10,000.

George Brown College, Toronto. College; 1,476 employees. Encourages employees to prepare for the future with a defined benefit pension plan and retirement planning assistance.

GSK / GlaxoSmithKline Inc., Mississauga. Pharmaceutical manufacturing; 2,632 employees. Supports a formal online health and well-being hub that provides information on preventative measures, health screening initiatives and telemedicine services.

Griffith Foods Ltd., Toronto. Spice and extract manufacturing; 378 employees. Organizes dedicated success talks, workshops and other opportunities to advance women in leadership through its Griffith Women Leaders initiative.

Halton, Regional Municipality of, Oakville. Municipal government; 1,964 employees. Celebrates employee achievement through annual recognition awards, including customer service, productivity and innovation, and service/product delivery.

HarperCollins Canada Ltd., Toronto. Book publishers; 313 employees. Offers flexible work arrangements and up to seven paid personal days, which can be scheduled as needed.

Hatch Ltd., Mississauga. Engineering; 3,381 employees. Offers a flexible health benefits plan that allows employees to customize coverage to suit their personal needs.

Healthcare Insurance Reciprocal of Canada / HIROC, Toronto. Insurance; 104 employees. Helps employees plan securely for the future with contributions to a defined benefit pension plan and retirement planning assistance.

Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan / HOOPP, Toronto. Pension plan; 689 employees. Created the Keep in Touch buddy program to help keep new parents connected throughout their leave and enable a smooth transition back.

Hershey Canada Inc., Mississauga. Food manufacturing; 866 employees. Encourages volunteerism with two paid days off to volunteer and matches charitable donations made by employees up to $5,000 USD.

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Toronto. Hospitals; 488 employees. Launched a dedicated No Boundaries Support Fund to enable employees to implement unique projects during the pandemic.

Home Depot of Canada Inc., Toronto. Retail; 14,591 employees. Maintains a dedicated mental health strategy that focuses on awareness, care and access, and workplace support.

Hospital for Sick Children, The, Toronto. Hospitals; 5,913 employees. Offers extensive wellness programming to encourage employees to make healthy choices for their physical, social and mental well-being.

HP Canada Co., Mississauga. Computer technology and services; 498 employees. Organized virtual volunteer activities in light of the pandemic to enable employees to continue to contribute in meaningful ways.

Hydro One Networks Inc., Toronto. Hydroelectric power generation; 5,905 employees. Offers a mental health practitioner benefit of up to $2,500 per year as part of its health benefits plan.

Hyundai Capital Canada, Inc., Toronto. Financial services; 141 employees. Offers generous tuition subsidies for courses related and indirectly related to an employee’s current role.

Kellogg Canada Inc., Mississauga. Breakfast cereal manufacturing; 322 employees. Created a Parents at Kellogg employee resource group to foster community for new parents.

Kinross Gold Corp., Toronto. Gold mining; 241 employees. Launched COVID-19 Champions, an initiative to recognize employees who go above and beyond to help colleagues, the company and communities during the pandemic.

KPMG LLP, Toronto. Accounting; 8,399 employees. Continues to prioritize diversity and inclusion, recently providing formal education on anti-Black racism and conducting a review of its current talent processes.

Kruger Products L.P., Mississauga. Paper products; 1,920 employees. Prioritizes ongoing employee development, spending over $5-million on training initiatives across the company in the past year.

Labatt Brewing Company Ltd., Toronto. Breweries; 3,417 employees. Adapted its Disaster Relief Program to produce and bottle over 100,000 bottles of hand sanitizer early during the pandemic, donated to food banks across Canada.

Loblaw Companies Ltd., Brampton. Supermarkets and grocery stores; 27,360 employees. Introduced a new intranet mobile platform that reaches all support and in-store personnel to help keep communication lines open.

Manulife Financial Corp., Toronto. Insurance; 12,489 employees. Hosted a unique Manulife Has Talent Event, soliciting clips from employees across the world for a virtual talent show.

Mars Inc., Bolton. Food manufacturing; 1,516 employees. Lets employees share in the company’s successes through year-end bonuses.

Mattamy Homes Ltd., Toronto. Real estate development; 1,397 employees. Helps its employees become homeowners through an employee home ownership program.

Mazda Canada Inc., Richmond Hill. Auto wholesale; 176 employees. Supports lifelong learning, providing up to $10,000 per year for employees to further their education.

McCarthy Tétrault LLP, Toronto. Law firm; 1,576 employees. Reimburses a portion of eligible expenses incurred for wellness and fitness activities and items, including sports programs, personal wellness and dietician services.

Medtronic of Canada Ltd., Brampton. Electromedical apparatus manufacturing; 682 employees. Introduced an internet subsidy of $50 per month for employees working from home as a result of the pandemic.

Metrolinx, Toronto. Public transit; 4,137 employees. Encourages employees to submit ideas through its Ideas@Work initiative that result in a better workplace, improved customer satisfaction, operating efficiencies and cost savings.

Michael Garron Hospital | Toronto East Hospital Network, Toronto. Hospitals; 1,464 employees. Manages a Staff in Need Fund to support employees who have endured a recent crisis resulting in personal financial hardship.

Mondelēz International, Toronto. Food manufacturing; 2,600 employees. Offers generous tuition subsidies to employees for job-related courses and academic scholarships for children of employees.

Municipal Property Assessment Corp., Pickering. Real estate appraisal; 1,656 employees. Offers a variety of mental health resources including e-learning sessions, guest speakers and an internal Gratitude Project to help employees find balance.

Nelson Education Ltd., Toronto. Publishers; 305 employees. Offers a range of financial incentives, including signing bonuses for some, year-end bonuses for all, discounted company products and referral bonuses.

Novo Nordisk Canada Inc., Mississauga. Pharmaceutical preparation manufacturing; 323 employees. Expanded its wellness program to include a points-based element designed to drive healthy behaviours.

Olympus Canada Inc., Richmond Hill. Medical, industrial and imaging equipment; 289 employees. Provides two paid days off for employees to volunteer and matches employee donations up to $2,000 each year.

Ontario Dental Association, The, Toronto. Professional organizations; 55 employees. Offers compassionate leave top-up for those called upon to care for a loved one, up to 80 per cent of salary for up to eight weeks.

Ontario Medical Association / OMA, Toronto. Professional organizations; 300 employees. Organizes activities for mental health awareness week and offers a mental health practitioner benefit of up to $3,000.

Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences, Whitby. Hospitals; 920 employees. Encourages ongoing employee development with tuition subsidies for courses at outside institutions plus in-house and online training programs.

Oracle Canada ULC, Mississauga. Computer and information management systems; 2,411 employees. Manages the Oracle Cares Fund to assist employees who experience financial hardship or a personal emergency.

Ornge, Mississauga. Air ambulance services; 611 employees. Encourages employees to put their health first with up to 12 paid sick days per year.

Panasonic Canada Inc., Mississauga. Consumer electronics; 423 employees. Provides subsidies for professional accreditation plus financial bonuses as an incentive for some course completion.

PepsiCo Canada, Mississauga. Soft drink and food manufacturing; 10,395 employees. Maintains an extensive national community strategy and organizes an annual volunteer campaign to encourage employees to donate their time.

Philips Electronics Ltd., Markham. Healthcare, lighting and consumer products; 575 employees. Cultivates an ownership culture through a share purchase plan, available to all employees.

Plan Group Inc., Concord. Construction; 1,802 employees. Supports a number of local charities each year, focusing its community investment strategy on issues that are important to employees.

Points, Toronto. Customer loyalty program software; 250 employees. Organizes annual Wellness Month activities, such as lunch and learns, to encourage employees to adopt healthy behaviours.

Praxair Canada Inc., Mississauga. Gas and related product wholesalers; 2,221 employees. Offers retirement planning assistance and phased-in work options for those nearing retirement.

Procter & Gamble Inc., Toronto. Consumer product manufacturing; 1,555 employees. Provides health and wellness spending accounts, allowing employees to specify levels of coverage, plus transfer unused credits to additional salary, savings or time off.

Questrade Inc., Toronto. Financial services; 511 employees. Ensured that over 95 per cent of employees could work from home during the pandemic, with extra precautions implemented for onsite employees.

RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust, Toronto. Real estate investments; 603 employees. Offers retirement planning assistance services along with contributions to a defined contribution pension plan or matching RSP contributions, depending on the position.

Rogers Communications Inc., Toronto. Telecommunications, cable, publishing and subscription programming; 22,635 employees. Has undertaken a number of enlightened initiatives in direct response to the impacts of the pandemic on the most vulnerable members of society.

Rothmans, Benson & Hedges, Inc., Toronto. Tobacco and cigarette manufacturing; 744 employees. Maintains generous time off policies, with paid time off during the summer and winter holidays in addition to annual vacation allowance.

Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto. Banking; 57,242 employees. Introduced a special daily compensation program of $50 per day for day-in, day-out support of its employees who were required to work on-site during the early days of the pandemic.

RSA Canada Group, Toronto. Insurance; 2,923 employees. Invests in ongoing employee education with generous tuition subsidies plus access to a variety of in-house and online training programs.

RSM Canada LLP, Toronto. Accounting; 656 employees. Donated over $100,000 to food banks in Ontario and Alberta in response to the pandemic, with employees taking time to help deliver food.

R.V. Anderson Associates Ltd., Toronto. Engineering; 321 employees. Hosts virtual social events, including mental health coffee breaks, drop-in social coffee chats, virtual games and pub nights, in response to the pandemic.

Salesforce, Toronto. Customer relationship management; 1,514 employees. Offers family-friendly benefits, including a subsidy of up to $10,000 for adoptive parents to help cover related costs.

Samsung Electronics Canada Inc., Mississauga. Communications equipment manufacturing; 573 employees. Provided $250 Samsung Dollars for technology needed to work from home, including monitors, ear buds, wireless chargers and other tech.

Schneider Electric Canada Inc., Mississauga. Industrial automation and controls; 2,024 employees. Encourages employees to prioritize health and wellness, offering resources on subjects such as recognizing stress and burnout, nutrition and the power of sleep.

Scotiabank, Toronto. Banking; 33,418 employees. Increased paid personal days to help employees balance their personal commitments during the pandemic.

Seneca College, Toronto. College; 1,564 employees. Offers generous maternity and parental leave top-up payments, including adoptive parents, to 93 per cent of salary, ranging from 37 to 52 weeks.

Siemens Canada Ltd., Oakville, Ont. Engineering; 3,740 employees. Offers employees the opportunity to apply for an unpaid leave of absence for up to two months in duration.

Sinai Health, Toronto. Hospitals; 3,744 employees. Has hosted weekly online town halls with senior leaders, developed a dedicated pandemic resource page and a dedicated COVID-19 Wellness Plan.

Slalom ULC, Toronto. Consulting; 455 employees. Offers a share purchase plan for some employees, year-end bonuses for all and new employee referral bonuses.

Spin Master Ltd., Toronto. Children’s toys and entertainment; 642 employees. Helps employees adapt their work schedules through flexible hours and working from home options.

Stanley Black and Decker Canada Corp., Mississauga. Tool and hardware manufacturing; 1,398 employees. Introduced the Helping Our Makers Emergencies program to provide direct financial assistance to employees and their families affected by the pandemic.

SUEZ Water Technologies & Solutions, Oakville. Waste and wastewater services; 937 employees. Enhanced flexible work arrangements, allowed for extended personal leaves and delayed return dates for parental and maternity leaves in response to COVID-19.

TD Bank Group, Toronto. Banking; 53,694 employees. Supported employees over the past year through a number of innovative and generous ways, including additional financial payments for onsite employees.

Teranet Inc., Toronto. Land registration and information systems; 921 employees. Circulated multiple surveys to employees for input on pandemic progress and concerns as well as hosting live online Q&A sessions.

Thomson Reuters Canada Ltd., Toronto. Publishers; 1,176 employees. Introduced a new Emergency Paid Leave policy to provide an additional 10 paid days as part of its pandemic response.

Toronto Community Housing Corp., Toronto. Housing programs; 2,067 employees. Offers compassionate top-ups, to 93 per cent for eight weeks, for employees needing time to care for a loved one.

Toronto Transit Commission / TTC, Toronto. Public transit; 15,201 employees. Promotes healthy living at home and at work through a number of wellness campaigns, including workshops on a variety of topics.

Toronto Zoo, Toronto. Zoos and botanical gardens; 267 employees. Supports employees over the long term with a defined benefit pension plan.

Uken Inc., Toronto. Game developer; 90 employees. Offers flexible hours and work from home options, plus additional support through financial subsides for home data and technology purchases.

United Way Greater Toronto, Toronto. Charitable organizations; 216 employees. Works directly with community and social service organizations building strong neighbourhoods and supporting people living in need across the city.

University of Toronto, Toronto. University; 10,456 employees. Hosted its inaugural race, equity, and action speaker series to provide members of the community opportunities to engage in critical dialogue.

Vaughan, The Corporation of the City of, Maple. Municipal government; 1,351 employees. Helps new parents to be with generous IVF subsidies to $12,000.

VISA Canada Corp., Toronto. Payments technology; 135 employees. Helps employees save for the future with a defined contribution pension plan and matching RSP contributions.

Walmart Canada Corp., Mississauga. Retail; 41,396 employees. Provides supports to employee mental health, including wellness seminars and webinars, anonymous virtual chat support and online medical services.

Wipro Technologies, Oakville. Computer systems design services; 1,072 employees. Enacted bonus pay cuts for senior managers to help retain employment, as part of its ongoing response to the pandemic.

Women’s College Hospital, Toronto. Hospitals; 661 employees. Created a dedicated remote work toolkit that includes resources to help employee manage their work from home.

Working Group Inc., The, Toronto. Custom computer programming; 145 employees. Supports a dedicated Health and Wellness Committee offering a range of programs and knowledge related to health and well-being.

World Vision Canada, Mississauga. Charitable organizations; 466 employees. Offers compassionate leave top-up for those called upon to care for a loved one, to 80 per cent of salary for up to 27 weeks.

Xerox Canada Ltd., Toronto. Computer technology and services; 1,974 employees. Helps retirees stay connected through the company-subsidized Xerox Canada Retiree Association.

YMCA of Greater Toronto, Toronto. Individual and family services; 3,027 employees. Launched 10-minute Aware Live online sessions, including fitness videos and webinars to encourage employees to keep healthy during the pandemic.

York Regional Police, Aurora. Police service; 2,354 employees. Offers a number of in-house training on topics such as mental readiness, transgender awareness and Aboriginal cultural competency.

YWCA Toronto, Toronto. Individual and family services; 267 employees. Provided a 10 per cent premium for frontline essential staff.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to clarify that all participants must pay a fee to enter the Top Employers competition and that winners are selected by Mediacorp Canada Inc. exclusively. The Globe and Mail is not involved in the judging process.

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