Businesses Juggling Labour, Debt


Although almost two-fifths of businesses had laid off staff since the start of the pandemic, around three-quarters expected to retain the same number of employees over the next three months and had the cash or liquid assets required to operate, says Statistics Canada’s ‘Canadian Survey on Business Conditions.’ Conversely, over two-fifths of businesses could not take on more debt. Nearly one-fifth of businesses expected to raise prices and 5.2 per cent reported that they were actively considering bankruptcy or closure. Almost two-fifths (36.5 per cent) of businesses had laid off at least one employee since the start of the pandemic. Of businesses that had laid off at least one employee, almost two-thirds (64.3 per cent) had laid off half or more of their workforce. Of businesses that reported layoffs, the majority in the arts, entertainment, and recreation (84 per cent), healthcare and social assistance (80.6 per cent), and accommodation and food services (74 per cent) sectors reported laying off half or more of their workforce. Just over half (53.8 per cent) of businesses that had laid off staff reported hiring back 50 per cent or more of their workforce. Nearly three-quarters (74.1 per cent) of businesses expected their number of employees to remain the same over the next three months, while 10.4 per cent expected their number of employees to decrease. Almost one-fifth (18.1 per cent) of businesses expected to raise prices over the next three months, including over one-quarter of businesses in the retail trade (31.1 per cent) and construction (27.8 per cent) sectors. In contrast, 5.1 per cent of all businesses expected to lower prices. Almost one-third (30.8 per cent) of businesses reported that their revenues from August 2020 were down 30 per cent or more, year over year. Less than one-fifth (15.5 per cent) of businesses reported that their revenues were down by half or more.