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Emergency preparedness: the five things you need to do

Among the many calls we receive, some of the most heartbreaking are from business owners who are seeing their dreams go up in smoke – literally! 

We all know that emergencies can happen – fires, floods, earthquakes – but how many of us are truly prepared to deal with the immediate and long-term effects of these events?

Emergency preparedness requires you to be proactive. Planning for different scenarios and making decisions now will put you a step ahead should disaster occur. 

What are the five things you need to do?

  1. Assign responsibility for managing a crisis.
  2. Identify threats to your business.
  3. Reduce the risks identified (where possible).
  4. Prepare an emergency plan.
  5. Practice and test your plan (at least once a year).

Ask yourself:

  • What are the potential natural disasters that could prevent you from operating as normal
  • How will you communicate with your employees if there is an emergency?
  • Are your records, documents, and employee files backed up?
  • Have you assigned managers/key personnel to assist with an evacuation?
  • Have you taken into consideration any employees with a disability?

Use the CFIB checklist and the simple step-by-step form from our Savings partner Northbridge Insurance, to help predict how an interruption to your core operations would affect your business. 

Business Continuity Plan

Answering the questions above will help you prepare your business continuity plan  – a document that identifies hazards, ways to minimize risk, and ensures the minimum of disruption to your business during an emergency. The business continuity plan should help establish the resources and information needed to deal successfully with an emergency.

Other things to consider:

  • Employment Standards: In most jurisdictions, there is no requirement to pay employees when the business experiences a closure. However, it is best to contact your CFIB counsellor at 1-888-234-2232 or [email protected] to ensure you are in compliance with the law in your province/territory.
  • Service Canada: If your business will be closed for more than a week, thereby causing an interruption of earnings of more than seven days, you will need to issue a Record of Employment to your employees.
  • Canada Revenue Agency: If your business has been severely impacted by a disaster, you may be eligible to apply for relief from penalties or fines incurred as a result of late remittances. 

Your provincial/territorial government may offer similar opportunities for relief from penalties for being late with taxes due to dealing with a disaster.

In conclusion

We can’t understate the importance of planning to deal with emergencies. It’s really a type of insurance – you hope you’ll never need to use it, but you’ll be grateful you have it should disaster strike. Keep your business and employees healthy, and plan ahead using the resources we’ve provided – protecting your business just makes sense.