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

Red Deer teacher contracts condemning same-sex relationships ‘not acceptable’

Eggen says Red Deer Catholic Schools assured him they no longer have employees sign the form

Second-degree murder trial on hold until January

Jury not back until Jan. 7 for 2015 stabbing death trial while lawyers argue evidence issues

Hospitalizations jump in Red Deer due to opioid poisonings

Small city hospitals impacted more by opioid crisis

Stray dog spotted in one Red Deer neighbourhood, could be missing for 1 year

Red Deerians asked not to feed this german shepard

WATCH: CP Holiday Train rolls into Lacombe

Kelly Prescott performed for hundreds of Central Albertans

Trump comments upend U.S. approach to Huawei, trade talks

WASHINGTON — The United States and China have taken pains this week… Continue reading

WATCH: CP Holiday Train rolls into Lacombe

Kelly Prescott performed for hundreds of Central Albertans

Dumba scores twice, Wild rout Canadiens 7-1

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Reeling and banged up, the Minnesota Wild were… Continue reading

Coach Hunter wants up-tempo Team Canada as world junior squad hits ice

COLWOOD, B.C. — Team Canada coach Tim Hunter says the team that… Continue reading

Study finds female-led films outperform male ones

NEW YORK — A study organized by Time’s Up, the organization formed… Continue reading

Price Is Right contestant wins winter trip to Winnipeg, Churchill

WINNIPEG — Who wants to visit Winnipeg in the dead of winter?… Continue reading

CBC Gem streaming service to launch exclusive content, partners with Wattpad

TORONTO — The CBC has launched a new streaming service featuring live… Continue reading

‘Part of the solution:’ Alberta seeks proposals to build new refinery

EDMONTON — Alberta is looking for someone to build a new oil… Continue reading

Most Read