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winning organizations

Family and friends come together for Convocation at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.

How they were selected

Now in its 13th year, Canada's Top Family-Friendly Employers continues to evolve beyond expected benefits such as maternity leave top-up payments, flexible working arrangements and family coverage through the company's health benefit plans.

All help young families cope when work and life collide, but the friendliest now include subsidies for fertility treatments or adoption, as well as formalized top-up programs for fathers and adoptive parents taking leave, or employees utilizing compassionate care to tend to a gravely ill family member.

Some top employers generously offer free onsite fitness facilities, cafeterias with healthy food, counselling programs for every stage of life or even tension relieving massages deskside.

But not all family-friendly initiatives need be expensive. Phased-in retirement options, quiet rooms for mediation, or communication initiatives such as networking groups that encourage working parents to share ideas offer families support at a minimum cost to the organization. All were taken into account by Mediacorp's editors in picking the winning organizations this year, but the real winners are their employees.

BC Public Service, Victoria. Government support; 26,201 employees. New parents have the option to extend their parental leave into an unpaid leave of absence.

Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto. Child and youth services; 581 employees. Offers four weeks vacation to start, moving to a maximum of six weeks paid vacation.

Dalhousie University, Halifax. Colleges and universities; 3,328 employees. Offers generous tuition subsidies for employees' immediate family members.

Desjardins Group / Mouvement des caisses Desjardins, Lévis, Que. Credit unions; 37,790 employees. Offers an onsite daycare centre for head office employees returning to work.

HP Advanced Solutions Inc., Victoria. Computer system design; 403 employees. Head office features an onsite meditation room for employees who require quiet time for religious observances during the day.

ISM Canada, Regina. Computer programming; 821 employees. Offers maternity and parental leave top-up payments (that vary per employee group) to new parents and alternative work options when ready to return to work.

Johnson Inc., St. John's. Insurance; 1,514 employees. Offers a generous in vitro fertilization (IVF) subsidy as part of its health benefits program.

KPMG LLP, Toronto. Certified public accountants; 5,778 employees. Supports a "Working Parents" networking group that brings together parents with young children to share ideas, experiences and resources.

Monsanto Canada Inc., Winnipeg. Agricultural biotechnology; 275 employees. Offers alternative work arrangements including flexible hours, telecommuting and shortened and compressed workweek options.

National Energy Board, Calgary. Oil, gas and electric utility regulation; 363 employees. Offers generous maternity and parental leave top-up payments (to 93 per cent of salary for 52 weeks).

Ottawa, City of. Legislative bodies, 12,103 employees. Employees with pre-school children can take advantage of an onsite daycare centre.

Pfizer Canada Inc., Kirkland, Que. Pharmaceutical manufacturing; 2,726 employees. Head office features a fitness facility with free employee memberships.

Saskatchewan Government Insurance, Regina. Insurance carriers; 1,902 employees. Offers compassionate leave top-up payments to employees called upon to care for a family member (to 100 per cent of salary for six weeks).

Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C. Colleges and universities; 2,752 employees. Manages an onsite daycare facility and offers new urbanist living options as part of the UniverCity development project, which surrounds the campus.

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto. Hospitals; 5,208 employees. Manages a "life stages program" to support employees through all stages of life, from student life to parenthood to retirement.

Toronto Hydro Corp., Toronto. Electric power distribution; 1,742 employees. Offers parental leave top-up for new fathers and adoptive parents (to 95 per cent of salary for 37 weeks).

Trican Well Service Ltd., Calgary. Support for oil and gas operations; 2,395 employees. Helps employees prepare for retirement with planning assistance and phased-in work options.

University of Toronto. Colleges and universities; 8,485 employees. Manages an academic scholarship program for children of employees who pursue postsecondary education.

Vancouver City Savings Credit Union, Vancouver. Credit unions; 1,836 employees. Helps employees keep more of their earnings through a number of financial benefits, including low-interest home loans and no-fee bank accounts.

World Vision Canada, Mississauga, Ont. Social advocacy; 442 employees. In addition to three weeks paid vacation to start, employees can earn a little extra time off through a formal earned days-off program.