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The Top 5 risks cited by Canadian executives


November 12, 2018   by Jason Contant


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For the second year in a row, risks from cyberattacks is the top concern that executives in Canada have identified as the most dangerous for their business, according to a report published Monday by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

In the number three spot is extreme weather events, up from fifth place last year. The Insurance Bureau of Canada reported Oct. 22 that insured damage across Canada had reached $1.7 billion.

The Regional risks for doing business report, in partnership with Zurich Insurance Group and Marsh & McLennan Companies, included responses from more than 12,500 executives, including in Canada. WEF asked respondents to select – from a list of 30 global risks – the five believed to be of most concern for doing business in their country within the next 10 years.

In Canada, cyberattacks was the top risk; “large cyberattacks” was the top risk of 2017. Rounding out the Top 5 this year was:

  • Asset bubble (second top risk, in same spot as 2017)
  • Extreme weather events (third spot in 2018, up from fifth spot in 2017)
  • Energy price shock (not in the Top 5 risks of 2017)
  • Failure of critical infrastructure (not in the Top 5 last year).

Almost all Canadian companies (87%) reported being the victim of a successful breach in 2017, the report said. Of these companies, almost half lost sensitive data; in 20% of cases, sensitive customer or employee data was exposed.

Extreme weather events ranked third of the Top 10 risks across North America, largely driven by concerns among Canadian businesses (which also included “failure of climate change adaptation in their Top 10).

As of late October, insured damage across Canada reached $1.7 billion. The tornadoes that hit the Ottawa-Gatineau region Sept. 21 caused more than $295 million in insured damage to homes, businesses and vehicles. In early May, a windstorm in the Hamilton, Ont. and Greater Toronto Area caused over $500 million in damage. Other events included winter and rain storms in various Ontario communities.

“Extreme weather has plagued the region and inflicted significant costs on businesses in the past 18 months,” the report said. “In Canada, wildfires raged through British Columbia in the summer of 2017, while temperature plummeted to all-time lows in Alberta and Saskatchewan in early 2018. More recently, record-breaking heatwaves in the central and eastern parts of the country led to the deaths of more than 50 people.”