Statistics Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce collaborated to launch the Canadian Survey on Business Conditions—a survey of more than 12,600 businesses in Canada—and the results depend greatly on industry and geography.
Nearly one-third of businesses are reporting that their revenues from the first quarter of 2020 were down by 40 per cent or more from the same quarter a year earlier. Another 21.2 per cent of businesses reported their revenues had decreased by 20 per cent to 40 per cent.
Businesses in the accommodation and food services (72.6%), arts, entertainment and recreation (66.7%) and retail trade (60.3%) sectors were most likely to report a decline in revenue greater than 20%. In contrast, just over two-fifths of businesses in each of the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (42.0%) and the utilities (40.4%) sectors reported either no change or an increase in revenue.
Across the country, over half of businesses in Alberta (57.7%), Ontario (56.3%), British Columbia (54.8%), Newfoundland and Labrador (53.5%) and Saskatchewan (52.8%) saw declines of 20% or more in revenue. In contrast, close to one-third of businesses in Prince Edward Island (33.1%), the territories (32.4%) and New Brunswick (30.3%) reported either no change or an increase in revenue.
Over one-quarter (28.6%) of businesses requested credit from financial institutions to cover operating costs due to revenue shortfalls caused by COVID-19. Financial institutions either fully or partially approved over three-quarters (77.3%) of these requests. In terms of businesses that pay rent, one-fifth (20.0%) had their rent deferred.
Just under two-thirds of businesses highly impacted by lower demand
Just under two-thirds (64.8%) of businesses reported being highly affected by lower demand for their products or services, while nearly half (48.5%) of businesses reported being highly affected by the need to cancel services they offered.
Statistics Canada’s March 2020 Labour Force Survey reported that 1.3 million Canadians were away from work due to COVID-19. In addition, 2.1 million people worked reduced hours. Almost two-fifths (38.1%) of businesses reduced staff hours or shifts, while two-fifths (40.5%) of businesses reported that they laid off staff. Nearly one-fifth (18.3%) of all businesses laid off 80% or more of their workforce. Of the businesses that laid off at least one employee, 45.2% laid off 80% or more of their workforce.
A significant proportion of businesses (27.0%) reported having implemented no changes with regards to staffing in light of COVID-19. Notably, over half (53.9%) of businesses in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sector reported they had implemented no changes to staffing as a result of the crisis
Almost half (45.4%) of businesses reported having added new ways to interact with or sell to customers, while nearly two-fifths (38.1%) of businesses reported having increased the use of virtual connections internally.
In response to requests by the government, 2.8% of businesses indicated they had started manufacturing new products to help cope with the crisis. Businesses in the manufacturing (10.5%) sector were most likely to shift production. Over two-fifths (42.9%) of businesses shifting production had started manufacturing hand sanitizer or had begun manufacturing masks and eye protection.
Nearly two-thirds (62.3%) of businesses reported that they could re-open or return to normal operations less than one month after social distancing measures are removed.