Making the business case for pandemic preparation now

Canadian corporations cannot afford to be complacent when it comes to pandemic preparedness – especially because the Canadian Pandemic Influenza Plan indicates Canadian companies cannot rely on governments to protect their employees and their business, argued Amin Mawani, acting director of the Health Industry Management Program at York’s Schulich School of Business, in an op-ed published in the Edmonton Journal Aug. 7. 

So far, per capita, Canada is the country in the world hit hardest by the pandemic (H1N1) in 2009, he noted. 

Just weeks after the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus began to emerge, risk managers from some of Canada’s largest corporations participated in a roundtable discussion on pandemic planning because they understood that preparedness was critical to the health of their organizations’ bottom line, wrote Mawani, who chaired the meeting.

Regardless of which region of the country they came from, the 2003 SARS experience was fresh in their minds. SARS resulted in 44 deaths across the country and a $2-billion loss to the economy (or three percentage points of GDP that quarter). The death toll from the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus in its mild form has already exceeded the SARS total. A more severe strain could keep many more employees and customers away from businesses and erode corporate sales and profits.  

For Canadian companies, the biggest cost associated with an influenza pandemic would be employee absenteeism. It is estimated that 15 to 30 per cent of employees would stay home during a pandemic due to illness, family-care responsibilities and fear of being infected at work.  

Nortel fits better with Ericsson than RIM, says prof

Members of Parliament were to hear conflicting views on the US$1.13 billion sale of Nortel Networks Corp.’s wireless assets to Sweden’s Ericsson during an "emergency hearing" Friday that aims to shed more light on the controversial deal, reported the Toronto Star Aug. 7.  

Ericsson, a giant in the wireless equipment business, is expected to argue its purchase of the Nortel division will increase its footprint in Canada. Nortel is similarly expected to point out that Ericsson won a competitive auction for the business that has been approved by bankruptcy courts in Canada and the United States.  

But not everybody thinks the sale is a good idea.  

RIM complained last month that it was unfairly shut out of the bidding process, a charge Nortel denies. The Waterloo-based tech giant has since played a key role in igniting a nationalistic fervour around Nortel by calling on Ottawa to stop the tech firm’s assets, developed with taxpayer money, from falling into foreign hands.  

The fracas has created an uncomfortable situation for the Conservative government, which last year balked at bailing out Nortel alongside automakers GM and Chrysler. 

"It’s going to be a political decision that’s going to be anyone’s guess," said Theo Peridis, professor of strategic management and international business at York University’s Schulich School of Business. "The truth is that Nortel fits better with Ericsson than RIM." 

Real memory loss is not a normal part of aging, says prof

Real memory loss – as opposed to forgetfulness – is not a normal part of aging, particularly for those in their 30s to 50s, says Jill Rich, a York University psychology professor, reported the Hamilton Spectator Aug. 7. 

Pregnancy, stress, depression, sleep problems, poor diet and taking on too much can cause memory troubles. But anyone without obvious lifestyle factors and serious memory problems, such as repeating conversations, needs to check in with his or her doctor, Rich cautions.  

It is wrong to imprison soldiers for refusing to violate human rights, says prof

Despite what Matt Gurney says (“Two kinds of war resister”, July 30), a soldier’s contractual commitment does not supersede the soldier’s moral obligation to his or her fellow human beings to refrain from engaging in military action that involves gross human-rights violations, argued Geraldine Sadoway (LLB ’81), an adjunct professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, in an opinion piece published in the National Post Aug. 7. 

The US military has committed widespread human-rights violations in Iraq, including torture, and has even admitted to it. Many of the US war resisters in Canada served one or more tours of duty in Iraq and personally witnessed these violations – hence they are morally opposed to returning. It is wrong and absurd to imprison people for refusing to commit, or aid in the commission of, human-rights violations, regardless of any contractual obligations they may have.  

Most ad agencies don’t set out to copy, says doug agency chief

A small agency can offer big advantages, according to Doug Robinson, chair and chief creative officer of Toronto-based doug agency, in an interview published Aug. 7 in the National Post and Saskatoon’s StarPhoenix.  

“Most people don’t set out to copy,” said Robinson, in response to a question about another agency cribbing work doug agency had done for a York University campaign to promote The Globe and Mail. “However, you need to protect your client’s brand and when ideas or executions become similar, one must inform the parties involved. We did, they agreed it was too close, made changes and moved on. When it comes to people copying our creative work I guess the old adage that ‘imitation is the highest form of flattery’ would apply. The York U campaign has had huge success since its launch in 2002, receiving the grand gold award at the CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education), beating out both Berkeley and NYU.”

On air

  • Gordon Flett, a psychology professor in York’s Faculty of Health, talked about procrastination in an interview aired on “TB News Hour” (CKPR-TV), Thunder Bay, Aug. 6.