Dr. Emile Tompa

Senior Scientist
PhD, Economics, McMaster University

For Dr. Emile Tompa, studying economics was a natural outcome of his interest in the sustainability of our resources. How to get the most for the least, that’s the basis for economics, he explains. I wanted to analyze issues relating to occupational health and safety and work disability prevention and management from the standpoint of this basic challenge.

As a senior scientist at the Institute for Work & Health, Tompa is conducting a number of studies that are doing just that. For example, he is currently working on a study led by Dr. Allison Williams at McMaster University on caregiver-friendly workplace policies. The study includes interventions in two worksites, and Tompa is evaluating their economic implications from the perspective of workers, employers and society. Another study he is spearheading on a project led by Dr. Paul Demers at the Occupational Cancer Research Centre is the economic evaluation of prevention strategies for reducing the future risk of occupational cancers in Ontario's consturction industry. The study follows from an earlier study in which the team evaluated the economic burden of occupational cancers in Canada.

Tompa’s research also focuses on advancing methods in the measurement of societal burdens, and the economic evaluation of programs and policies directed at improving the health and well-being of individuals and populations. One study that fits this bill is the cost of excluding people with disabilities from Canadian society. Excluding people with disabilities from paid work is widely documented in the literature, but has not been quantified in monetary terms. Excluding people with disabilities from other social roles is less well documented and presents important methodological challenges to quantify in monetary terms. This study, which is part of the Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy (CRWDP), endeavours to advance both methods in economic evaluation, as well as an understanding of the gains to be realized by promoting a more inclusive society.

Tompa is co-director of CRWDP, an initiative funded for seven years by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council. The Centre is a transdisciplinary collaborative on the future of work disability policy in Canada. It includes 60-plus academics and 60-plus partner organizations from across the country.

It’s important that we get the most from our insurance and disability support programs, he says, coming back to the question of resources. We want to maximize the positive aspects of these programs and minimize the negative. That’s what this research is about. The Centre also focuses on building researchy capacity in the area of work disability policy by funding graduate students and post-doctoral fellows across the country.

Tompa's economic background is also instrumental to his ongoing research into the adequacy of workers’ compensation benefits in cases of permanent impairment. He is currently evaluating the adequacy of benefits under recent workers’ compensation programs, building on previous studies he spearheaded that measured long-term outcomes related to poverty, work disability trajectories and marital breakup following work injury.

Current projects: 

Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy (www.crwdp.ca)

The cost of exclusion from Canadian society of people with disabilities

Cost-benefit analysis of caregiver-friendly workplace policy interventions on the health of full-time caregiver-employees

Evaluation of prevention strategies for reducing the future risk of cancer in the Ontario construction industry

Impairment and work disability of workers' compensation claimants in Ontario: A cohort study of new claimants from 1998-2006

The aspiring workforce in Canada: Building the business case for employers to actively recruit and retain people living with mental illness

Selected Publications: 

Tompa E, Kalcevich C, Foley M, McLeod C, Hogg-Johnson S, Cullen K, MacEachen E, Irvin E, Mahood Q. A systematic literature review of the effectiveness of occupational health and safety regulatory enforcement. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 2016; 59(11):919-933; doi: 10.1002/ajim.22605

Tompa E, McLeod C, Mustard C. A comparative analysis of the financial incentives of two distinct experience rating programs. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2016; 58(7):718-727

Hackett C, Feeny D, Tompa E. Canada’s residential school system: measuring the intergenerational impact of familial attendance on health and mental health outcomes. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2016; 70:1096-110

Tompa E, Polanyi M, Foley J. (2016). Health Consequences of Labour Market Flexibility and Worker Insecurity. Chapter 6 in: Social Determinants of Health: Canadian Perspectives, Third Edition, Raphael D (ed.). Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press, pp. 130-149

Tompa E, Dolinschi R, Alamgir H, Sarnocinska-Hart A, Guzman J. A cost-benefit analysis of peer coaching for overhead lift use in the long-term care sector in Canada. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2016; 73:308-314; doi: 10.1136/oemed-2015-103134

Tompa E, de Boer H, Macdonald S, Alamgir H, Koehoorn M, Guzman J. Stakeholders’ perspectives about and priorities for economic evaluation of health and safety programs in healthcare. Workplace Health and Safety, 2016; 64:163-174; doi: 10.1177/2165079915620201

Tompa E, Robson L, Sarnocinska-Hart A, Kassen R, Shevchenko A, Sharma S, Hogg-Johnson S, Amick BC, Johnson D, Veltri A, Pagell M. Managing safety and operations: The effect of joint management system practices on safety and operational outcomes. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2016; 58.3:e80–e89

Tompa E, van der Beek A, van Tulder M. (2016). Economic Perspectives on Return to Work Interventions. Chapter 22 in: Handbook of Return to Work, Schultz IZ, Robert Gatchel R (eds.). New York: Springer, pp. 381-402