How can HR prepare and respond to pandemics? :

On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the new 2019 nCoV (coronavirus) outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.  At particular risk are organizations with significant employee populations in affected areas; however, as cases continue to be reported globally, many more are affected by evolving travel restrictions and recommendations. Supply chain disruptions, employee absenteeism, travel, tourism, and the global economy could be significantly impacted if the outbreak persists.

Your organization should take action to manage its own risk, including potential effects on your people and operations. Keeping employees informed as a best practice and providing resources will increase communication amongst staff. Below is a list for HR practitioners and additional resources that can be communicated.

HR to do’s:

  • Monitor updates from your national and regional health authorities (see list below), and other public health officials and government entities.
  • Review and test your business continuity, crisis management, and crisis communications plans.
  • Based on local health authority guidance, remind employees of:
    • The symptoms of coronavirus
    • What an individual can do to prevent contracting coronavirus
    • What a person who has the symptoms of the infection should do
    • What to do if you have been in contact with someone who gets the infection
  • Communicate best practices for group gatherings, public facing roles, telework, and other mitigation and management strategies.
  • Keep your employees informed and educated and any steps being taken to safeguard their health.
  • Follow travel restriction guidance from authorities in your country.  Ensure that any employees who must travel to affected areas take steps to protect themselves.
  • Consider how the outbreak could affect your suppliers and vendors and explore sourcing goods, ingredients, and component parts or services from alternative suppliers.
  • Review your applicable insurance policies — including workers’ compensation, general liability, and both traditional and non-damage property/business interruption coverage — and prepare for potential claim filings.
  • Determine if special procedures or exceptions are required to protect or support individuals who may be unable to attend work due to vulnerability, quarantines or other restrictions. 

Below you will find a list of provincial health authorities and their specific information on coronavirus. We also included other credible national and international resources as a reference.

Provincial Resources

Province Website for updates
British Columbia BC Centre for Disease Control
Alberta Government of Alberta
Saskatchewan Government of Saskatchewan
Manitoba Government of Manitoba
Ontario Government of Ontario
Québec Gouvernement du Québec
Nova Scotia Government of Nova Scotia
New Brunswick Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
Prince Edward Island Government of Prince Edward Isla
Newfoundland & Labrador NL: Department of Health and Community Services
Yukon Government of Yukon
Northwest Territories NWT: Health and Social Services
Nunavut Nunavut: Department of Health

Other Resources (Federal, international, other tools):

Health Authority Information Line by Province

Infection Prevention and Control Canada

Public Health Agency of Canada: Outbreak Update

Public Health Agency of Canada: FAQ on 2019 Novel Coronavirus

Public Health Agency of Canada: Travel Advisories in China

Government of Canada: Consular Services of Assistance for Canadians in China

WHO: How to Wash Hands Properly

Pandemic Readiness: Risk Finance and Mitigation Strategies

New Coronavirus Outbreak: Immediate Steps for Multinationals

World Health Organization

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention