Federal government urges small, medium businesses to work on pandemic plans

OTTAWA — The federal government is trying to encourage small- and medium-sized businesses that don’t have pandemic plans to start working on them.

OTTAWA — The federal government is trying to encourage small- and medium-sized businesses that don’t have pandemic plans to start working on them.

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced Wednesday that the federal government is giving the International Centre for Infectious Diseases in Winnipeg a $926,600 contract to develop tools and strategies that businesses can adapt to their own individual needs in the months ahead.

“Supporting smaller businesses now is especially important as we prepare for the next wave of the pandemic, which might cause more serious illness and consequently have a stronger impact on the economy,” Aglukkaq said.

She announced the grant just hours before appearing before a special session of the House of Commons’ health committee, a meeting called by opposition MPs critical of the government’s pandemic response.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said the contract involves first assessing the needs of small- and medium-sized businesses and then developing a pandemic tool kit geared specifically for those kinds of enterprises.

With concerns that flu activity might ramp up quickly once children return to school, it remains unclear whether these tools will be available in time to make a difference for businesses that haven’t seen the need or haven’t had the resources to do this kind of planning.

The head of the public health agency, Dr. David Butler-Jones, insisted, though, that much work has already been done in the business sector, with larger businesses incorporating pandemic response needs into their existing business continuity plans.

“There’s been a lot (of planning) going on. But we know that there may be gaps, there may be pieces missing,” Butler-Jones said in an interview.

“This is really just ratcheting it up.”

He said thinking through the challenges that a pandemic might present — high levels of absenteeism, for instance — will help small businesses get ready for what may lie ahead.

“It’s going to be a challenge for companies if they haven’t thought this through,” he said.

One of the issue businesses will have to consider is the need to find ways to allow employees to stay home or work from home when they are ill. The old culture of dragging oneself to work while sick won’t help anyone in a pandemic, Butler-Jones suggested.

“There’s an old saying about being penny wise and pound foolish. And having people come into work when they’re sick during a pandemic, with flu-like symptoms, I think is very penny wise but pound foolish at the end of the day if you want to have a successful business,” he said.

“Because if someone comes in sick, and suddenly rather than one person off sick, you have four. And then a couple of days later you now have 10. And suddenly you’ve got a third of your workforce off — it’s not very productive at the end of the day.”

Just Posted

PHOTO: Rainbow Block Party at Red Deer’s West Park

The Trans and Non-Binary Aid Society hosted a Rainbow Block Party at… Continue reading

Blood donations needed in Central Alberta: Canadian Blood Services

357 donors are needed before Aug. 26 at the Red Deer clinic

WATCH: Annual Family Picnic at Central Spray and Play

Blue Grass Sod Farms Ltd. held the Annual Family Picnic at the… Continue reading

Photos: Smoky conditions in Red Deer

Red Deer and area is experiencing high risk air quality.See related: Red… Continue reading

Committee to decide how millions in Humboldt Broncos donations are split

SASKATOON — Lawyers for the families of some of those who died… Continue reading

Boy, 11, dies after being struck by payloader on southern Alberta ranch

BOW ISLAND, Alta. — A boy has died after an accident on… Continue reading

Liberals look at creating federal holiday to mark legacy of residential schools

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government wants to establish a holiday to… Continue reading

Thousands of police officers expected at regimental funeral in Fredericton

FREDERICTON — Thousands of police officers and first responders from across the… Continue reading

B.C. declares state of emergency over wildfires

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government has declared a provincial state of… Continue reading

As service refusals make headlines, experts say businesses usually in the wrong

Two Canadian businesses that recently made headlines for refusing customers have learned… Continue reading

Irregular asylum claims increased in July after two months of decline

OTTAWA — The number of irregular border crossers in Canada went up… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month