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Survey shows less than half of Toronto companies had SARS contingency plans

Toronto, ON -- The Toronto Board of Trade is doing all it can to help the business recovery process in the city, sa...


Toronto, ON — The Toronto Board of Trade is doing all it can to help the business recovery process in the city, says Elyse Allan, president and CEO of the organization and chair of the newly created Business Travel Recovery Task Force. "Now that the World Health Organization (WHO) has removed Toronto from its list of SARS-affected areas, business is looking for action," she says.

A survey released by the Board reveals that the vast majority of respondents — 75% — had their businesses impacted by SARS. For close to half (43%), the impact has been loss of revenue. Other impacts include restricted business travel, delayed or lost contracts, lost customers, employee absenteeism, and higher costs of having to do business differently.

Roughly 10% of businesses have been forced to lay off staff and a further 10% expect to do so. One in five businesses have implemented a hiring freeze.

"Our survey respondents tell us they want a full action program of initiatives to restore the pride and confidence in the city. We are answering their call. We are working with our members, industry, and all three levels of government to reassure the global business community that Toronto is open for business."

The Board has already launched a media campaign to thank the health care workers for all that they’ve done to contain the outbreak, and is working with governments on public policy solutions to help businesses and their employees.

The Board is concerned by what the survey reveals as insufficient contingency planning in the business community. Less than half (46%) of Toronto-area businesses have contingency plans already in place. "It is important that business be a leader in the control and prevention of SARS," says Allan. "I strongly encourage our members to share contingency plans and best practices, and learn from each other."

The survey was conducted from April 25 to April 30, 2003. Respondents included a cross section of small, mid-sized and large Toronto based employers from all sectors of the business community. Responses are considered accurate within +/- 5.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.