MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (August, 2023)

Joining the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel during difficult times for many, as forest fires burn in the Yellowknife and Kelowna areas, among others, alongside Rubina Ahmed-Haq and Natalie Katalata.  Our discussion focused on what households and businesses can do when a crisis such as a forest fire, flood, or storm is on the horizon, as well as in times of direct impact; you can watch our segment here.

Below are some thoughts on what small businesses can do when planning for and encountering a disaster.


  • Business owners/leaders should ask themselves “when was the last time I had an in-depth conversation with my insurance broker?” and take the time to have this discussion.
  • Take note of areas where the business may have changed, such as renovations/new premises, equipment purchases/disposals, new/discontinued lines of business, and geographic regions of operations, as all of these may impact coverage needs.
  • Ask your insurance broker to explain any recent changes in your insurance policy, as well as new types of coverage that may be beneficial.  Areas such as business continuity can be of particular interest.
  • Pay careful attention to coverage that relates to technology and cyber considerations, as these areas are of both increased risk and importance, given the need to work and access information remotely.
  • Discuss the steps that should be taken in the event that it is necessary to access assistance during a disaster and/or file a claim.  It is helpful to have contact information on hand, as well as download any insurer apps.
  • Take photos and videos of the premises for documentation purposes, both before and after any damage occurs; this only takes a few minutes and can be done using a smartphone.
  • Be sure to get copies of detailed expenditure receipts, in the event of an evacuation or loss event; this is not the time to be part of the “no receipt crowd” or simply rely on a credit card statement.

Risk Management Planning

  • All businesses should have a formal, written plan as to what steps would be taken, in the event of a disaster.  This should not only address the actions to be taken, but also who is responsible for doing so.
  • This type of plan should be updated at least annually and also reviewed with staff members, especially those who have a role to play.
  • Although the ability to continue to operate can vary with the type of business at hand, processes should be in place for staff members to be able to access information and work remotely, wherever possible.  Achieving this requires much more effort than simply instructing staff to “work remotely”.
  • Ensure that key information is available remotely in the event of an emergency (and not simply stored in a binder at the office). Take special care with information that relates to areas such as banking (fobs, account numbers, key contacts, etc) and ensure that important contact information for suppliers, customers, staff members, and others is also close at hand.
  • Have communication plans in place that can be quickly distributed, for both internal and external stakeholders.

Now is a good time to have a fresh look at resources, such as your smartphone and any lists that are kept, to ensure that all of the key information that would be needed during a crisis is at hand.  In terms of technology, useful resources include apps for banking, credit cards, insurers, credible news sources, community governments, weather, highways/transportation, and emergency management organizations.  Be sure to sign up (and watch for) emergency alerts in your area and have charged power banks for technology devices.  These might sound like basic reminders, but the best time to have them in place is well in advance of a crisis.  Speaking from some experience, advance preparation helps to reduce the to do list in times of crisis, as nature tends to have its own plans.

Thank you for watching, and here’s hoping that all of our communities stay safe.

Jenifer Bartman
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