The importance of the campaign was underscored by a poor reaction from Sunrise Propane, following massive explosions at its north Toronto facility on August 10 that left two dead and many homes and vehicles in the area damaged.
A lawyer for Sunrise Propane made a brief statement to the media the night of the blasts, but left area residents in the dark as to what happened or how Sunrise would help, if at all, in the clean-up. Sunrise Propane now faces various class-action lawsuits totaling $900 million in damages (and an application by Ontario's propane regulator to shut the company down).
Sunrise did not return calls for comment, and issued a statement on August 19, saying, "Currently, there are numerous investigations into the incident and Sunrise is cooperating fully with the authorities. However, out of an abundance of caution and a desire for the investigatory process to unfold free of speculation and misinformation, we will not be making any further public comments at this time."
Although Sunrise Propane is not a member of PGAC, the association's communications manager Tracy Walden said, “I feel bad for Sunrise, because they could have a pristine business,” but because of their failure to be more forthcoming in their communications, the company has given the impression it is not cooperating with authorities or the public.
PGAC launched its campaign earlier this year to help its members be media-ready in the event of a worst-case scenario. Walden said its members have been and will be sent various media tools, including a guide, Media Relations, penned by former journalist Allan Bonner.
“What happened is unfortunate, but it reminds people why they need to be prepared,” said Walden. “And as an association, a part of our job is to help prepare [companies] for crisis management planning.”