As a result of the widespread measures taken to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Canadian economy declined 11.6% in April, following a 7.5% drop in March. By the end of May 2020, the Canadian economy had been transformed by COVID-19 and many businesses had begun to adapt to the new reality by shifting to teleworking, reducing hours, laying off staff, applying for government funding or seeking rent relief. As Canada’s economy continues to move towards a recovery, Statistics Canada has run the Canadian Survey on Business Conditions to better understand the ongoing effects on businesses as the economy begins to reopen.

Number of Employees

Through the month of June, businesses were asked what their expectations were over the next three months on the number of employees they employed. 

  • 65.8% of businesses expect their number of employees to remain the same 
  • 15.1% of businesses expect their number of employees to increase 
  • 24.4% of businesses in the accommodation and food services sector and 23.9% in the manufacturing sector expect to increase their number of employees 

Personal protective equipment (PPE) or supplies

  • 80.5% of businesses need or expect to need PPE or supplies as physical distancing measures are relaxed
  • 68.1% of businesses reported that they need or will need masks and eye protection
  • 64.4% need or will need cleaning products
  • 66.5% of businesses indicated they were likely or very likely to provide facemasks, gloves, and other PPE to employees
  • 74.8% of businesses reported they were likely or very likely to increase sanitization of the workplace
  • 22.0% of businesses were experiencing or expect to experience difficulty procuring PPE or supplies
  • 5.0% of businesses indicated they had started manufacturing new products; of those companies 66% started manufacturing masks and eye protection and  62% started manufacturing hand sanitizer

Teleworking

  • 32.6% of businesses reported 10% or more of their workforce was teleworking or working remotely on May 29, 2020 compared to 16.6% on February 1, 2020
  • 22.5% of businesses expect that 10% or more of their workforce will continue to telework or work remotely once the pandemic is over
  • For businesses that indicate teleworking as potentially applicable to their workforce,25.2% reported being likely or very likely to offer more employees the possibility of teleworking or working remotely once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, while 14.3% were likely or very likely to require it

Revenue and Expenses

  • 51.6% of businesses reported that their revenues for the month of April were down 30% or more compared with April 2019
  • 35.3% of businesses reported that revenues were down by half or more
  • 40.9% of businesses reported that their expenses (excluding salaries and wages) have stayed the same year over year
  • 32.4% of businesses saw expenses decline by 10% or more
  • 80.3% of businesses in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector and 78.1% in the accommodation and food services sector experienced revenue drops of 30% or more
  • 59% of businesses in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sector, 41.4% of businesses in the professional, scientific and technical services sector,  and 41.3% in the finance and insurance sector  reported either no change or an increase in revenue

Funding from government programs or credit from external providers

  • 63.7% of businesses reported being approved for funding from government programs or credit from external providers in light of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Businesses in Quebec (72.0%) and Prince Edward Island (67.0%) were most likely to be approved for funding or credit
  • 43.1% of businesses applied for and were approved for the Canada Emergency Business Account
  • 22.6% of businesses reported being approved for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
  • Of businesses that were approved for the CEWS, 53.0% reported that the subsidy allowed them to hire back 30% or more of their workforce
  • 23.2% of businesses approved for the subsidy reported that the subsidy allowed them to hire back 100% of their workforce

Rent or mortgage payments deferrals

  • 23.6% of businesses that make rent or mortgage payments had their rent or mortgage payments deferred
  • 5.7% of businesses that did make a request were rejected
  • 60.1% of the businesses that make rent or mortgage payments had not asked or been offered the option to defer payments owed

Laying off staff due to the COVID-19 pandemic

  • 39.9% of businesses reported reducing staff hours or shifts due to the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • 28.4% of businesses laid off staff
  • 17.4% of all businesses laid off half or more of their workforce
  • Of the businesses that laid off at least one employee, 61.3% laid off 50% or more of their workforce
  • 22.9% of businesses reported having implemented no changes with regards to staffing

Continuing Operations

  • 19.3% of businesses can continue to operate at current level of revenue and expenditures for less than six months before considering further staffing actions, closure or bankruptcy
  • Harder hit sectors that felt they could continue to operate at current levels of revenue and expenditures for less than six months before considering further staffing actions, closure or bankruptcy include:
    • 34.7% of businesses in the accommodation and food services sector
    • 31.5% in the information and cultural industries sector
    • 26.8% of businesses in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector

Source: Statistics Canada