More than half of the businesses in Canada have lost at least 20% of their revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, Statistics Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce released a report based on a online survey from 12,600 business responses taken from April 3 to April 24.
The report found that 32.3% of the businesses that responded said their revenue was down by over 40% in the first quarter of 2020. Another 21.2% said their revenues had revenue decrease by 20% to 40% over the same time period.
There was a noticeable difference with businesses in food service, arts, entertainment, recreation, and retail trade were all sectors that reported a decline in revenue greater than 20%.
By contrast, just over two-fifths of businesses in each of the agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting and utility sectors, reported either no changes or an increase in revenue.
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Reduced hours and layoffs of employees
The March 2020 Labour Force Survey said that 1.3 million Canadians were away from work due to coronavirus, of which 2.1 million worked reduced hours.
Around 38% of businesses reduced staff hours or shifts, while 40.5% reported that they laid off staff.
Nearly one-fifth of all businesses laid of 80% or more of their workforce, with the food sector experiencing the most layoffs with 69% reporting layoffs of 80% or more.
How businesses are adapting to the pandemic
Teleworking and working remotely have become more prevalent since the start of the pandemic, in order to adapt to the physical distancing measures.
Nearly half of businesses reported 10% or more of their workforce was teleworking or working remotely on March 31, 2020. This was over twice the level reported as of February 1, 2020 — just 20.4% of businesses reported 10% or more of their workforce was teleworking or working remotely.
Around 45% of businesses reported having added new ways to interact with or sell to customers, while 38% 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 sector, around 10.5%, were most likely to shift production. Over two-fifths of businesses shifting production had started manufacturing hand sanitizer or had begun manufacturing masks and eye protection.
And, 62.3% of businesses said they could re-open or return to normal operations less than one month after physical distancing measures are removed.
While certain regions of Canada are seeing the coronavirus curve flatten, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made it clear that residents must continue to stay at home and follow physical distancing measures for the near future.