What is a Wellness Spending Account? And, is it right for your business?
Benefits 5 minute read

What is a Wellness Spending Account? And, is it right for your business?

Liam Cannon | February 7, 2024

Across the landscape of Canadian HR, emphasis on employee wellness has never been more on the rise. In particular, companies with 3-100 employees (Small and Medium Enterprises, or SMEs) are looking for the best ways to support and retain their employees. 

The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the importance of providing the best possible wellness solutions for employees. It also showed how varied employee health and wellness needs can be, even for small businesses with few employees, making it more important to employees than ever: 54% of employees said they view their benefits as more valuable since COVID-19.

As these SMEs work to take care of their employers and provide competitive benefits for hiring and retaining staff, one question frequently comes up: "What exactly is a wellness spending account, and is it right for our business?" 

Let’s demystify Wellness Spending Accounts (WSAs) and explore why solutions such as Rise Health might be the right choice for businesses prioritizing cost efficiency, reducing admin tasks, and providing superior employee benefits.

What is a Wellness Spending Account?

A Wellness Spending Account (WSA) is a flexible, employer-funded benefit Canadian companies can offer their employees, designed to support personal wellness and health-related expenses. Unlike traditional health insurance plans, which often have predefined coverage limits and specific eligible expenses, WSAs provide employees with a set amount of funds to use at their discretion for a wide range of wellness activities. 

Wellness Spending Account coverage can include anything from fitness class fees and gym memberships to mental health services and nutritional counseling. The key aspect of a WSA is its adaptability, allowing employees to use the funds for wellness services that suit their individual needs and preferences. 

This customization empowers employees to take charge of their health and wellness and aligns with the evolving understanding of what constitutes personal well-being. By offering a WSA, employers can demonstrate their commitment to their employees' overall health, potentially enhancing job satisfaction and productivity. It also shows employees that their employer is committed to supporting their personal health and wellness needs, whatever those may be.

Wellness Spending Accounts have risen in popularity across Canada due to their versatility in supporting various wellness activities. Whether it’s fitness classes or mental health services, WSAs align with personal health objectives.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of WSAs


  • Flexibility: WSAs allow employees to customize how they use their funds, catering to individual wellness needs.
  • Employee Morale: HR professionals identify that implementing WSAs has been linked to enhanced job satisfaction and engagement.
  • Customization for Employers: Companies can tailor these accounts to align with their specific company culture and financial capacity.


  • Financial Commitment: Establishing WSAs represents a notable financial undertaking for the employer.
  • Administrative Resources: These accounts demand dedicated administrative efforts for effective management if the administration process is not digital.
  • Employee Misuse: https://www.cpacanada.ca/news/canada/2019-05-09-benefits-fraud-types (basically saying employees could submit fake receipts and hard to catch if managing WSA yourself)
  • Clear Guidelines: It’s imperative to have well-defined rules to prevent misuse of the allocated funds.

Exploring Alternatives to Wellness Spending Accounts

Canadian businesses exploring employee wellness solutions have several options at their disposal:

  • Traditional Health Insurance Plans offer extensive coverage (although with limited flexibility).
  • Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are known for their tax advantages and suitability for employer and employee contributions.
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) provide comprehensive support for various personal and work-related issues.
  • Rise Health: A digital platform offering cost-efficient and comprehensive employee benefits solutions, including WSAs.
  • Direct subsidies for fitness and wellness activities.
  • Onsite wellness amenities like gym facilities or yoga classes (not an option for small or work-from-home businesses)

Who Should Consider a Wellness Spending Account?

Wellness Spending Accounts can be a good fit for businesses that:

  • View employee wellness as an integral aspect of their company culture.
  • Seek to provide flexible, personalized benefits to their employees.
  • Recognize the varied wellness preferences within their workforce.

Rise Health is a compelling alternative for businesses seeking more economically viable, digitally streamlined, and comprehensive benefit solutions.

Rise Health: A Competitive Digital Solution for Canadian Businesses

Rise Health stands out for Canadian businesses looking to enhance their employee benefits package, offering:

  • Affordability for Canadian businesses: Rise Health plans are more budget-friendly compared to traditional carriers, with clients saving an average 10% on their monthly premiums. . Additionally, the integration of their Payroll + HR platform at no extra cost (a unique offering from Rise Health) amplifies the savings.
  • Completely digital benefits experience: Rise Health's fully digital platform streamlines benefits administration, significantly reducing paperwork and tedious administrative tasks for employers. It also offers an all-in-one app for employees to access their Rise Health account and submit claims easily. The dual advantages for both employees and employers can make this the type of win-win solution businesses need.
  • Modern benefits packages: Rise Health enables smaller companies to offer extensive benefits plans that might otherwise be out of reach from conventional providers and without the a hefty price tag. Being able to offer modern benefits that employees will find valuable can be an essential factor in attracting and retaining talent in Canada's competitive job market.

Embracing Modern Employee Benefits with Rise Health

Wellness Spending Accounts represent a contemporary and adaptable solution for employee benefits. However, for businesses that want to provide comprehensive coverage, Rise Health is ideal for Canadian businesses eyeing cost savings, digital ease, and modern packages. Feedback from our clients is consistently positive, and we look forward to meeting and exceeding their expectations.

Exploring Rise Health's offerings can provide deeper insights into how your business can improve or even start offering employee benefits package that help your business stand out. This can pave the way for a healthier, more satisfied workforce while also taking extra administrative work off your plate with fully digital HR processes and systems

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