These Risk Communication essays were completed in one of Mount Royal University public relations program’s fourth-year classes focusing on contemporary risk and crisis communication case studies (currently known as PUBR 4860). The papers were available for voluntary review by the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) based on a partnership with the PR department, which allows the top papers to be presented before CEMA’s professionals.
Risk Management and Disadvantaged Groups: A comparative analysis of the First Nations drinking water crisis by Abby Ross (FIRST PLACE)
First Nations groups across Canada have been subjected to poor drinking water conditions for over 10 years. Through literature review, it was found that 70 per cent of First Nations communities have been affected by a drinking water advisory (DWA) at some point since 2004. Additionally, only 131 news stories about inadequate drinking water in these communities occurred over a 16-year period, suggesting that agenda setting has played a significant role in how the situation is being managed. The Flint, Michigan water crisis of 2015 is used as a case study to identify additional factors at play—the most significant being low media coverage and neglect of marginalized communities. This paper argues that the lack of action being taken by the Government of Canada is a result of risk racism and environmental racism. Underprivileged and unrepresented groups are more likely to be subjected to poorly-handled risk situations related to health and environment.
Examining Alberta Health Services Risk Communications on Seasonal Influenza Immunization: A comparative analysis of preventative health campaigns by Rachel Piers (SECOND PLACE)
Over the past decade, seasonal flu vaccinations have been provided to all Albertans free of charge, and yet uptake rates in the province are still significantly lower than set national goals. Much of this is due to a rise in vaccine hesitancy and the unique nature of seasonal flu immunization itself, but the question remains as to whether the risk communications conducted on this topic are doing enough to assuage these concerns. Furthermore, given that there are certain populations that are vulnerable or at high-risk on contracting influenza, risk communications with these groups are even more important. Through a thorough review of existing literature and a comparative analysis with other related health campaigns, this paper examines the effectiveness of Alberta Health Services risk communications in relation to the seasonal flu vaccination for vulnerable populations. The findings suggest that communication methods must adopt greater focus on self-efficacy messaging and the use of compelling narratives if Alberta Health Services wants to increase the annual uptake of this vaccine.
Deploying Risk Communications on Bullying to Prevent Fatal School Incidents by Jamila Kanji (THIRD PLACE)
Bullying is a growing form of violence among students. Research has shown that students who are bullied are at a greater risk for self-harm and suicidal behaviours (John et al., 2018, p. 10). Peer bullying is increasingly prevalent, but can be reduced if not prevented with risk communications in schools that are relayed to students, parents and teachers. There have been a number of suicides in Canada that have sparked public outrage, with a demand for policy changes at a school and government level. This paper reviews research conducted by Albayrak, Yidiz and Erol (2016) and McWilliam, King, Drennan and Cunningham (2016) to understand how school boards can be proactive in addressing bullying before a fatal incident occurs.