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Oct 27, 2009

Pandemic Business Planning: H1N1 Influenza isn’t just a threat to your health - it is a threat to your business.

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Date ArticleType
10/27/2009 General
Pandemic Business Planning: H1N1 Influenza isn’t just a threat to your health - it is a threat to your business.

This spring, thousands of businesses in Mexico closed their doors after the H1N1 influenza outbreak. The economic impact of the H1N1 outbreak to the Mexican economy is expected to be over $2 billion and 2,000 of the restaurants that shut down in Mexico during the outbreak are now closed. The same happened in Toronto after the SARS crisis in 2003. Canada’s business loss from SARS in 2003 was about $1.5 billion and SARS caused over 7,000 long term job losses in the Canadian tourism industry.

Knowing and preparing for the challenges that come with a pandemic can help your business survive.

There are steps you can take now to:

• Protect your employees and customers

• Get sound health information for yourself and your business

• Reduce the risk of your business failing

From a corporate perspective, when a pandemic does occur, it has two closely linked but distinct impacts – a social impact and an economic impact – and businesses must be prepared to manage both. The social impacts directly relate to the health and well-being of employees, customers, and business partners. Understanding how to manage the social impacts of this threat is critical and is the typical focus of a pandemic plan, when one exists at all. Nevertheless, the economic impact is equally important and is generally overlooked in most plans. The economic impact of a pandemic can be severe and directly linked to the organization’s ability to recover from the event and resume normal operations.

Studies have shown that small and medium sized enterprises (SME’s) in Canada aren’t as well prepared as they should be for the economic and business challenges that come with a pandemic.

That is why the International Centre for Infectious Diseases (ICID) and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce have partnered up, with the support of the Public Health Agency of Canada, to help SME’s plan in order to help limit the economic impact of a flu pandemic. They have outlined six steps to guide organizations through the pandemic planning process:

1. Assess the impacts: Changes in demand, employee absenteeism, and supply chain

2. How will you plan to keep your business operating?

3. Will you change your human resource policies?

4. How will you help protect your employees?

5. How will you communicate?

6. How will you recover?

To access the website that the International Centre for Infectious Diseases (ICID) and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce have launched to assist businesses in developing their pandemic plans, click here: http://www.businessfluplan.ca/home