Q&A: Anita Brunet, National President, CANASA
Anita Brunet, a security professional for more than 30 years, and currently vice-president of security solutions, Western Canada, Wesco-Anixter, was recently elected as National President of the Canadian Security Association.
SP&T News reached out to Brunet recently and asked her to outline some of her main agenda items during her two-year term. Brunet responded to questions via email.
SP&T News: How long have you been involved with CANASA and what roles have you served in before?
Anita Brunet: I first began volunteering with CANASA in 1993, and I was voted in as the first female president for the B.C. chapter in 2003. During my tenure as B.C. president, I also served on the national board as the representative for our B.C. members, and was chair of the national charity and membership committees.
I was instrumental in forming a partnership with ASIS International and CANASA in B.C. When attendance for our respective chapter events and golf tournaments was dwindling, combining the efforts of both associations was a great way to bolster attendance but also create an opportunity to network and build relationships between members.
I’m happy to see that other chapters have followed suit and continue this practice today! My latest role (2019-2021) was that of vice-president on the national executive board, and when I was nominated for the role of National President, I proudly accepted. I’m thrilled to give back to an industry that has been very good to me.
SP&T: What does your role look like now as National President?
AB: The next challenge will be steering CANASA through the second phase of this pandemic, which involves reopening and rebuilding our resources. Although the previous boards could not have predicted this crisis, they did a fantastic job streamlining costs, shifting how we deliver support and services to our members despite the shortfall in revenues. I want to ensure this board does the same for our future boards. We understand the work that’s needed to rebuild and we are all up for that challenge.
SP&T: What are the major issues before CANASA today in terms of serving its members and the security industry at large?
AB: Many member companies have projects that they have a difficult time completing on time due to labour shortages of skilled technicians. It’s vital to our membership that we provide educational resources, particularly on the technical front. We are currently in the process of a complete overhaul of our online Alarm Technician Course (ATC) and we have been working with a college in Ontario that will be putting out a comprehensive security technician program later this year.
Additionally, we are reviewing our Security Canada conference programs and schedules to ensure the venues are available and can accommodate us. As things begin to re-open we have decided to focus on three in-person shows in Quebec, B.C. and Ontario. I’m excited for the manufacturers, distributors, monitoring stations and integrators to reconnect, network and get up to speed on the latest technologies. It can’t have been easy for the manufacturers to show the same excitement over a new product using Zoom or Teams as they would have in person. I’m sure everyone is just as excited as I am for the in-person shows.
SP&T: What is CANASA doing well today?
AB: We have the highest engagement ever with our membership, thanks in part to our Facebook page. We started the CSIO Facebook page (Canadian Security Industry Online) in early 2020. The timing could not have been more perfect with everyone working from home and increasing their online presence.
It’s a place for our industry to connect, a resource for trainings, a place to post job opportunities, to ask for technical assistance as well as share industry humour. During the pandemic, we had amazing participation with all of our committees. A great example of this would be our Monitoring Station Committee which is comprised of companies across Canada that run monitoring facilities.
They have been working together to help each other out with best practices, etc., when dealing with the issues around working from home. All of this had to be done in conjunction with ULC regulations.
SP&T: What could be done better?
AB: We need to grow our association to be more inclusive of all types of business which work under the umbrella of “security.”
We are working to attract cybersecurity, IT security, guards, investigators, and many more. There is strength in numbers and we as an industry will have a stronger voice when we represent broader, more diverse segments of security.
SP&T: What have you (and CANASA) learned about the role of an association during a crisis like the pandemic?
AB: COVID really showed just how tightknit our industry is. The pandemic created supply chain issues making it difficult to complete projects. It was amazing to see members connecting from coast to coast, assisting each other with hard-to-find parts when needed.
We were extremely lucky that we had such a strong executive team and a tight collaboration with the executive director and CANASA staff. That connection was tested when we had to pivot and make hard decisions to keep the association alive — and make them in a very timely fashion. It speaks volumes that we were able to make structural changes without affecting our service levels.
SP&T: What are your personal goals during your term as president?
AB: Our volunteer members are becoming more diverse which is exciting. Diversity brings new ideas, fresh insights and differing perspectives which makes us stronger as an association. I’d love to see this diversity continue to grow and develop. I am also passionate about seeing more women get involved at the national and local levels. I hope to speak with many of our female members across the country and share with them the benefits of getting involved with this great association.
Something else that I feel strongly about is attracting new talent into the industry. The need to feed the labour stream is vital to our industry’s success.
Coming from distribution and working closely with the security integrators, I hear daily how the shortage of installers is hurting their business. Most subcontractors are kept very busy and cannot keep up with the demand.