Blog: 2019


Tuesday, January 1, 2019
By Susanne Cork


Resilience goes beyond your traditional emergency management and preparedness: it extends to community capacity building, health, cyber security, business continuity and critical infrastructure.

Today, the word “resilience” is used frequently in many contexts, from community readiness to health to business continuity. Frankly, I am enjoying the resilience buzzword because I believe it says something about our time and place. Strong resilience is sought because today’s adversity is real. The literal meaning of resilience is broad: to have the capacity to recover quickly from stress, challenges or misfortune.

Today, people, communities and organizations must have the capacity to handle adversity in its many forms, to have capacity to carry on in a “normal” state. At Calian we have a unique perspective on resilience because of our diverse business lines. We urge people and organizations to invest in resilience because we have seen the ROI first-hand: failure to rebound from challenges or misfortune bears very real costs – and not only financial.

For resilience in 2019 I would like to make a few predictions and observations. Resilience goes beyond your traditional emergency management and preparedness. In my view, it extends to community capacity building, health, cyber security, business continuity and critical infrastructure.

Community resilience 

We witnessed worst-case scenarios this year in California as wildfires wiped out entire communities. While community resilience was big in 2018 -- I predict it will be even bigger in 2019. We witnessed worst-case scenarios this year in California as wildfires wiped out entire communities. British Columbia’s devastating wildfires set a record-high annual burn area in the province of more than 1.35 million hectares. In the Ottawa region, a tornado ripped through surrounding communities, damaging or destroying approximately 200 buildings and leading more than 2,000 people to register for assistance with the Quebec branch of the Canadian Red Cross.

These are just a few examples of many events that damaged or devastated communities around the globe this year. Achieving community resilience depends on needs, resources and community involvement. Regardless of size or geographic location, communities must have the capacity to be aware of threats, be prepared to handle them, and respond and recover quickly from disasters or other challenges. When it comes to resilience, the goal is to return the community to as-close-to “normal” as quickly as possible – and to establish a “new normal” that is more resilient than what the community had previously.

The wildfires in Western Canada were concerning for northern, remote and many Indigenous communities. These communities can be disproportionally affected by disasters such as floods and wildfires. First, they are not as accessible for the provision of emergency services. Second, they may lack local administrative and technical capacity, affecting response and coordination capabilities. Third, First Nations may rely more on the local ecosystem for food, resources and cultural well-being – which may become diminished or inaccessible following a disaster.

When the risks are higher, the need for preparedness, response and mitigation planning is elevated. Communities need professional advisory and training services, adapted to their culture or unique circumstances, to help build capacity and enable resilience. In 2019 I expect demand for these services to better reflect community needs.


Health will be central to the resilience story in 2019, as it was in 2018 – particularly mental health. One in five Canadians experience a mental illness or addiction problem annually, according to the Toronto-based Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). I anticipate two big health stories in 2019: mental health and military veterans’ health.

In mental health generally, so much work has been done to reduce the mental health stigma and share important research about the complex links between childhood development, trauma, addiction and mental health. I anticipate these discussions to expand as mental health resilience becomes a key resilience topic in 2019. Access is paramount. Canadians need access to professionals to help them deal with trauma-related disorders and addiction issues, among other top challenges.

Veterans and military family health will again be prominent in 2019. I was very happy to see the Government of Canada single out resilience in Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy, where it emphasizes “well-supported, diverse, resilient people and families.” It was heartening to see Canada’s Defence Policy expand beyond capabilities, recognizing people as a key national resource. What better way to support the resilience of the nation than to support the

health of our serving members, veterans and their loved ones. I expect we’ll hear more about this theme in 2019.

The very people who practice resilience on the front lines during emergencies must also demonstrate resilience. Based on our extensive work with the military, veterans and the RCMP, Calian’s health professionals understand the unique demands and stresses of such vocations. First responders must have access to training and health services that help them cope with stressful incidents and events that they deal with on a daily basis. In parallel, they need training to deal with situations involving people with serious mental health issues. On a personal note, I also feel a need to help society’s most vulnerable. The people most at risk should get the help they deserve – be they first responders, police officers, military veterans or people in Canada’s First Nations communities who may be risk of suicide or self-harm.

Cyber security

The world of cyber security continues to evolve quickly – in terms of both threats and security solutions. The growing threat landscape is leading more organizations, large and small, to recognize that they must be prepared for the next cyber attack or breach. The Government of Canada has clearly identified this priority with its investment in cyber operations and the hiring and training of cyber operators.

Ottawa’s new Canadian Centre for Cyber Security will provide a single window for expert advice and services for governments, critical infrastructure operators, and the public and private sectors, to strengthen their cyber security.

While there are many aspects to the cyber security story, in 2019 I believe the “human firewall” will become better recognized for its effectiveness. Calian’s cyber security practitioners observe that an organization’s people – its security awareness -- continues to be the weakest link. Today, to go without proper cyber security and awareness training for staff is to take on much higher risk. All levels of the organization must be educated and trained on the risks and threats related to data and network security. This “human firewall” provides the best ROI when it comes to cyber security – which is why I predict we will see an increasing number of groups conduct security awareness training in 2019. It is critical to cyber security resilience.

Nuclear power

The accident at Fukushima Daichi in 2011 was a harsh lesson for nuclear power plants across the world – and the industry has responded. Over the last few years, nuclear plants have improved their ability to adapt, survive extreme conditions and recover from events. Nuclear plants now own flexible standby equipment that can be deployed to restore the powering or cooling of essential equipment. The toolkit to respond to an emergency also now includes the usual planning and training for anticipated emergencies as well as a more flexible approach to tackle unanticipated, extreme events.

In 2019 and beyond, resilience will be a world-wide concern for the nuclear industry. Nuclear capacity worldwide is increasing steadily, with about 50 reactors currently being constructed in 15 countries, including China, India, Russia and the United Arab Emirates. Given this growth, our nuclear experts at Calian predict resilience in 2019 will involve additional focus on severe accident management guidelines, emergency mitigation equipment, and innovative training solutions involving simulations. Look for these themes to be important aspects of resilience in 2019.

Food security

As a final topic for resilience in 2019 I would like to highlight food security – an issue Calian is familiar with through our AgTech products. Population growth is putting upward pressure on world agriculture resources. The Earth’s population is expected to reach nine billion by 2050, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN estimates that food production must grow by 70% to meet this demand.

Around the world agricultural producers will need farmland resilience to ensure their yields remain high. The issue is more acute in developing countries where food security may be an issue. Globally, ag producers have an opportunity to take advantage of technology to improve both yield and revenues –and thereby resilience. We believe there is significant value in using technology to solve issues like the tracking and monitoring of food and agriculture products. These technologies can prevent spoilage, increase traceability and support overall food security. I expect the AgTech story get some attention in 2019.

The above article was originally published December 21, 2018 in The Resilience Post. 

Susanne Cork is Director of Business Development for Custom Training Solutions and Emergency Management Solutions at Calian Group. A diversified professional services and solutions company based in Ottawa, Calian employs 3,000 people with offices and projects that span Canada, U.S. and international markets. | [email protected]

Sunday, December 16, 2018
By Rima Aristocrat and Susanne Cork


For generations, women were discouraged from considering the skilled trades as career or vocational options. Subtly or not-so subtly, they were guided away from jobs that required physical strength or endurance. While these attitudes are changing, they have effectively left many women out of high-demand skilled trades like welding, plumbing, carpentry or automotive repair.

In the digital economy, we have an opportunity to avoid making the same mistake as our forebears. Cyber and network security represents the first trade of the new economy. Cybersecurity professionals are not building walls, fitting pipes or doing home repairs – as tradespeople they are building firewalls, patching network platforms and installing infrastructure in offices, homes and facilities across the country. Unfortunately, as is the case with the broader tech sector, a gender imbalance is equally evident in the cybersecurity trade. The 2018 (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study found women comprise just 24% of the global cybersecurity profession. 

"Yet governments and the private sector are having difficulty filling these important roles – a situation worsened by the fact that so few women are engaged in the trade."

The demand for a global cyber workforce is growing rapidly as organizations recognize a need to defend against and prepare for cyber attacks and breaches. Yet governments and the private sector are having difficulty filling these important roles – a situation worsened by the fact that so few women are engaged in the trade. The global workforce gap for cybersecurity professionals is already close to three million, and will continue to grow, according to the (ISC)2 study. What a tremendous opportunity to look into the barriers women face in joining this workforce. 

To understand how and why so few women are choosing well-paying careers in cyber and network security, we are working with the Department of National Defence to identify barriers preventing their engagement. Calian and Willis College’s Veteran Friendly Transition Program have a long and recognized history supporting the Canadian Armed Forces. Whether through health care, training, education, employment or easing military member transition to civilian life, Calian and Willis are leaders in serving those who serve us.

The Government of Canada is increasingly in need of cyber defence analysts to ensure its networks are protected, with recruits coming through the Department of National Defence (DND) and the government’s new Canadian Centre for Cyber Security. They’ve made it a priority to recruit more women into these important roles. 

"Our organizations are engaged in training programs for these cybersecurity defence professionals, where we have seen first-hand that enrollment is predominantly men."

Our organizations are engaged in training programs for these cybersecurity defence professionals, where we have seen first-hand that enrollment is predominantly men. With DND, we wanted to better understand why women in the military and defence are failing to choose a cyber career path. Hence our new project: Engaging Women in Cyber Defence. Its website is home to a survey that we hope women across the country will complete, as well as people across the military and veteran community.

In the spring of 2018, we had an opportunity to apply to the Government of Canada’s Defence Engagement Program. This innovative grant program seeks targeted expertise from academia, NGOs, think tanks and the private sector to inform, confirm, or challenge current defence policy thinking. The spring call for applications sought project proposals focused on the priorities outlined in Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy.

While DND wants to increase the number of women enrolling in Canada’s cyber defence, it faces a dual challenge on this front: In addition to low participation in cyber, fewer women than men choose a military career in the first place. As demand for cyber professionals continues to grow, now is the time to identify barriers to such career paths for women and better understand the reasons for low participation.

We see this project as an important start that opens a dialog and, for both of our organizations, provides guidance on how to expand female participation in our cybersecurity training and employment programs. We have an opportunity to engage millions of Canadian women in exciting, rewarding and well-paid careers across the tech, IT and cyber sectors. Let’s not commit the same errors of the generations before us. Help us reach these women – because we can do better.

The above article was originally published in The Hill Times on November 25, 2018. 

Rima Aristocrat is President and CEO of Ottawa- and Arnprior-based Willis College, offering industry-led, job-ready skills training and education and enabling adults to transition into careers in business, healthcare, technology and cybersecurity. Susanne Cork is the Director of Business Development for the Custom Training Solutions and Emergency Management Solutions service line with Calian Group, a diversified professional services company based in Ottawa that employs 3,000 people with offices and projects that span Canada, U.S. and international markets. To participate in the survey visit  

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