March 30, 2020

Episode #05: A Local Look a COVID-19 Part Two: A Conversation with Chief Tom Sampson about Calgary’s Response to COVID-19

As of the publication of this episode, there have been over 500 cases of COVID-19 in Alberta. Over 60% of those are in the Calgary Zone.

On March 15, 2020, the city of Calgary declared a local state of emergency due to the COVID-19 health crisis. Since then, its focus has been on protecting the health, safety and well-being of Calgary citizens and maintaining essential services.

Over the past two episodes, we have been taking a closer look at how the city of Calgary is responding to both the health and economic crisis including the specific measures the city has taken to date to protect the health and safety of its citizens, what plans are in place to maintain essential services and ensure business continuity and what role local businesses have in effectively responding to the needs of the people, health care system and the economy overall.

In Part 2 of this series, we are speaking with Chief Tom Sampson of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency about how we can use experiences and lessons from the past to guide us through current circumstances, what his message is to businesses and how to maintain a sense of normalcy, optimism and hope.


Note that after this episode was recorded, the Government of Alberta announced on March 27, 2020 that all non-essential businesses are to be closed. You can find a list of what businesses are considered essential here.

In This Episode:

  • Why the city declared a state of local emergency and how that impacts essential services, critical infrastructure and local economic activity
  • What services are considered essential
  • How we can maintain a sense of normalcy, practically manage the overwhelm, and build our resiliency muscles

Key Takeaways:

  • How we talk to ourselves and others in a time of crisis is important. There is power in hope, vulnerability and mindset to build resiliency through tough situations
  • There are practical ways to remain above the waters including setting goals and objectives and holding ourselves and each other to them
  • Message to business owners: Now is the time to lead your employees, customers and communities
Important notes from the previous episode:

What can those businesses that are able to help do to support people?

  • If you can afford to do, keep paying your employees or top up EI benefits to avoid the ripple effects such as defaulting on rent or other bills
  • Consider corporate philanthropy. Donate to United Way’s COVID-19 Community Relief Fund, a city-wide fundraising effort to support community social service agencies
  • Think about how you can use your own business operations and processes to help develop solutions to our challenges. (E.g. Calgary breweries pivoting to manufacture hand sanitizer)

What specific measures is the City taking to protect people, business and the economy?

  • Making changes to city utility bills so that citizens can pay all, a portion or none of their bills without penalty of interest for April, May and June 2020.
  • For those on a monthly property tax schedule, the provincial portion is deducted, lowering the overall bill.
  • Developing thoughtful and effective solutions to improve cash flow and liquidity to maintain essential services and working with provincial and federal governments to provide a financial backstop

Useful information

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