What is the Employee and Family Assistance Program?

Your EFAP is a voluntary, confidential counselling service that allows you and your eligible family members to discuss personal or work-related problems and concerns in an understanding and professional environment away from the workplace. Short-term, solution-focused counselling is provided. The program is designed to help you with personal or work-related problems, pressures, and stress before they lead to more serious difficulties.

The church's EFAP is available to all active Group Benefits Plan members and their eligible family members (as defined in the Group Benefits Plan), and candidates and their families.

How does the EFAP work?

Contact is made directly by you or a family member to Morneau Shepell. The toll-free telephone line is answered by counsellors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For first-time appointments and counselling:

  • 1-800-387-4765 (English)
  • 1-800-361-5676 (French)

For administrative matters, appointment changes, office locations, directions, and general information, please call 1-888-814-1328.

An in-person appointment with a counsellor is arranged within three to five working days from the time of the call. In urgent situations, every attempt will be made to see the individual on the same day as the call is made. Occasionally, the question or problem can be fully dealt with in the initial phone call.

Morneau Shepell has launched an online wellness website, WorkHealthLife.com. Visit this site to

  • access support for your work, health, and life
  • link to resources and interactive tools to help you manage your health and well-being
  • find information about how the EFAP has helped others and ways it can support you too

Whether you need help managing everyday stress, handling life as a parent, or making better food choices, WorkHealthLife.com offers secure and confidential support around the clock.

Confidentiality is the cornerstone of your EFAP. Counsellors work within a strict code of professional ethics, within the limits of the law. They observe the same rules of confidentiality that are used in hospitals or other clinical settings.

The commitment to confidentiality ensures that when you use the EFAP you will in no way jeopardize your work situation. In fact, the EFAP is likely to be of benefit because counselling may help you resolve problems that might otherwise affect your job performance.

What information does the United Church receive about the use of the EFAP?

The only information provided to the United Church by Morneau Shepell is statistical data about the users of the service and the types of problems they bring to the program. The information is presented in number format only and in no way identifies particular individuals as having used the service. The confidentiality of the program is critical to the use of the program.

This statistical data is presented to the Permanent Committee on Ministry and Employment Policies and Services, which reviews the data to identify patterns and concerns that need to be addressed organizationally. The committee reports annually to the General Council Executive.

What kinds of problems or concerns does the EFAP deal with?

The EFAP deals with problems and concerns in the following areas:

  • stress (including job-related stress): Includes access to Stress Coach Connects, an online interactive program to help assess, understand, and manage personal and work-related stress, as well as access live professional support via the instant online chat feature.
  • childcare and eldercare: Includes access to Family Support Services, information and resources to help cope with the day-to-day challenges associated with caregiving responsibilities including parenting, childcare searches, adoption, eldercare, rehabilitation, companion care, and palliative care. Services also include resource packages addressing topics such as planning a family and maternal/paternal leaves.
  • pastoral care and counselling consultation: For plan members whose own work includes providing pastoral care or counselling to others, counsellors are available to provide clinical consultation—within the plan member’s scope of practice—to identify, reflect on, and respond to pastoral care and counselling-related issues that may arise.To access this service, call the toll-free number above and ask to speak with a client care counsellor for a pastoral clinical consultation.
  • anxiety and depression
  • marriage and relationships
  • personal and emotional issues
  • family and parenting
  • career and vocation
  • grief
  • health
  • nutrition
  • smoking cessation
  • alcohol and drugs
  • gambling
  • financial consultation and information
  • legal consultation, information, and referral
  • trauma response: For tragic situations that affect groups of plan members, the EFAP provides immediate telephone assessment of the event, followed by specialist on-site interventions designed to reduce the traumatic impact for those involved.

Is using the EFAP mandatory if personal problems interfere with work performance?

No—participation is always voluntary. There are no mandatory referrals. However, an employer can suggest using the program.

Who pays for the EFAP?

The EFAP is an employer-paid program. There is no cost to those who use it. Each employer and employing unit pays a monthly premium for each employee who is a member of the church's Group Benefits Plan. That premium includes the amount needed to cover the costs for candidates and for plan members on long-term disability.

The premium paid by employers and employing units is determined by the Permanent Committee on Ministry and Employment Policies and Services, subject to approval from the General Council Executive. The premium is set at a level that is sufficient to cover Morneau Shepell's fees for services, as well as all the church's operational expenses related to the EFAP (staff time, committee expenses, and travel subsidies).

In situations where specialized or long-term counselling is required, the counsellor will discuss with you or your family member the appropriateness of a referral to a professional or an agency in your community. Any fees for these services outside the EFAP are your responsibility. However, some of these services may be covered by your provincial health plan or the church's health plan.

Why an Employee and Family Assistance Program?

The EFAP provides the United Church with another vehicle to express its care for the people who serve it as ministry personnel, overseas personnel, lay personnel, General Council employees, and candidates. It offers an opportunity for the church to seek the wellness and well-being of its employees and candidates for ministry and their families, and to enhance the ability of the United Church to offer ministry and seek shalom in the wider community. An EFAP provides services that contribute to the wellness of the minds, bodies, and souls of its participants and, by extension, of those they serve.

The availability of EFAP services counters the tendency in ministry to "go it alone" and to offer pastoral care without also being open to receiving it. The EFAP also allows those providing staff service to the United Church opportunities to seek the care and counsel of the wider community.