Imagine that ten percent of your employees are too sick to come to work on any given day. Imagine that, cumulatively, a quarter or more of your workforce could be out for as many as three to four months. Imagine that the other businesses you rely on are facing the same massive absentee rates.
Hard as it may be to believe, such a scenario could happen. Indeed, some health officials say it’s inevitable. The cause: pandemic influenza.
Health warnings about pandemic influenza, a more serious type of "flu" than we see each winter, are based on historical knowledge of past pandemics, and current concerns about the possibility of a new strain of human influenza that we have no natural immunity against.
Though health experts do not know when this may happen, they are increasingly concerned that it will happen.
Even if the probability is low, the possible consequences are enormous.
“Panic is not in order, but neither is complacency”. - Dr. Sherry Cooper, BMO Nesbitt Burns
This pandemic business tool kit was developed by a Pandemic Influenza Task Force led by the International Centre for Infectious Diseases (ICID) in partnership with the Manitoba Public Health Association (MPHA). Task force members came from an array of backgrounds, including businesses and business organizations, labour, government health agencies, hospitality, the transportation sector and the workers compensation system.
The tool kit has been designed to assist all sizes and types of businesses in preparing for pandemic influenza.
Human suffering and loss of life will of course outweigh economic concerns during a pandemic. However, the health and survival of business is important not only to the corporate well-being of individual companies, but to the stability of society as a whole. A CDC Foundation report on lessons learned from SARS (The Public/Private Response to Sudden Disease Outbreak, Final Report June 30, 2005), identified two distinct motivations for a company’s participation in preparation for a future public health emergency, i.e.: “corporate responsibility” and protection of the “competitive edge”.