covid 19 job loss

These industries in Canada have seen the most job losses due to COVID-19

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has changed the way Canadians live, socialize, travel, shop and navigate public spaces, but the most pronounced (and potentially long-lasting) differences between pre-COVID times and now relate to work.

More than one million people across the country lost their jobs during March of 2020 alone in what amounted to the highest one-month unemployment rate increase since the government started tracking such data back in 1976.

"The Canadian economy changed dramatically in March as a result of COVID-19 and the situation has had a profound impact on the ability of businesses in Canada to operate," wrote Statistics Canada in a new report released Wednesday.

The government statistics agency recently collaborated with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to conduct a survey of more than 12,600 business representatives from coast-to-coast in an effort to better understand how the virus has impacted the workforce.

Their resulting Canadian Survey on Business Conditions report suggests that some industries have been hit much harder than others in terms of layoffs, and that a large portion of business owners are experiencing financial setbacks.

Out of all businesses surveyed by StatsCan between April 3 and April 24, nearly an entire third (32.3 per cent) indicated that their first quarter revenues were down by 40 per cent or more from the same quarter last year. Another 21.2 per cent said that revenues had dropped by at least 20 per cent during the same period of time.

"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%," reads the report.

"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."

Employment trends followed suit by sector, with a whopping 69 per cent of "accommodation and food services" businesses reporting laying off staff, slashing 80 per cent or more of their overall workforce.

The "health care and social assistance" sector saw the second-most layoffs among businesses that actually reported layoffs, with 64.2 per cent of these companies indicating that they'd laid of 80 per cent of their workers or more, followed by "arts, entertainment and recreation," (61.7 per cent) and "retail trade" (51.2 per cent).

The least-impacted sectors in terms of layoffs during March, according to those who participated in the StatsCan survey, were "finance and insurance," "public administration," "administrative and support, waste management and remediation services," and "information and cultural industries."

You can see a full breakdown of how each sector fared by province here, but on the whole, nearly two-fifths of business reps surveyed across Canada (40.5 per cent) indicated that they'd laid off at least one employee.

"In addition, 2.1 million people worked reduced hours," points out StatsCan. "Almost two-fifths (38.1%) of businesses reduced staff hours or shifts."

The report suggests that working remotely (or "teleworking") has become more prevalent as well among Canadians since the pandemic hit, with nearly half of all survey respondents (47.9 per cent) stating that 10 per cent or more of their workers were working from home as of March 31.

Employees in the information and cultural industries, enterprise management, and finance or insurance are most likely to be working at home during the pandemic according to the survey (and most urban millennials).

Lead photo by

Tyler Nix


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