Alberta CEOs more concerned with government over-regulation, uncertain policy over cyber threats, shows survey


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Alberta CEOs believe over-regulation and government policy are greater threats to economic growth than cybersecurity and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent PwC survey.

Nearly 340 chief executives from across Canada participated in the survey, which was conducted in January and February, in order to provide insight into how companies are doing. Alberta CEOs felt optimistic about the global economy in the coming year with 72 per cent anticipating growth, according to the survey.

About 54 per cent of Alberta CEOs feel over-regulation and policy uncertainty are the biggest threat to economic growth whereas nationally, CEOs felt extremely concerned about cyber threats.

Steve Hollinger, the office managing partner for PwC Canada in Edmonton, said CEOs should take cyber threats seriously.

“If you’re a CEO and you don’t think this is your area of responsibility, just wait until your system gets hacked and held for ransom,” he said during a presentation to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.

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“Then see how high it ends up on your priority list. There’s a real spectrum that we’re seeing out there in terms of companies that are all over this and really are actively understanding and managing their vulnerabilities. And at the other end, there are organizations that truly have their heads in the sand and don’t realize how big of a threat this really is.”

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Cybersecurity issues have made international headlines recently following a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline Co. on May 7, forcing the company to shut down the flow of fuel for several days and causing severe shortages. Bloomberg News reported last week that JBS USA paid $11 million in ransom after a cyberattack disrupted meat processing in Australia and across North America.

Reynold Tetzlaff, the Alberta Region and Calgary office managing partner with PwC Canada, said it’s not surprising that Alberta CEOs would prioritize regulation and policy given how it impacts the energy industry. He said Alberta CEOs are likely paying attention to cybersecurity but it may not be as high of a priority.

“It’s probably not shocking when you think about what we’ve been living through with regards to regulatory uncertainty, policy uncertainty, tax uncertainty,” Tetzlaff said. “It’s in the news every day and people are living it and are concerned about it. It really does affect some of the ability for people to invest in a local environment.”