Canada's Economic Outlook: Sharp, Deep, Unprecedented

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to impact the global economy, business leaders across Canada have more questions than answers

Canada's Economic Outlook: Sharp, Deep, Unprecedented

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to impact the global economy, business leaders across Canada have more questions than answers.

Our nation’s economic outlook has changed immeasurably since 2019, with companies remaining closed and workers laid off. But what does this mean for the future of our jobs and industries? What can employers do now to minimize any future impacts or job losses?

HRD spoke to Pedro Antunes, The Conference Board of Canada’s Chief Economist and speaker at Ultimate Software’s webinar – Canada’s Economic Outlook: Sharp, Deep, Unprecedented.  

Antunes explained how COVID-19 has already impacted the Canadian economy – and offered some advice to employers on how best to proceed in these uncertain times.

“I think it’s important to keep in mind that this situation is unique,” prefaced Antunes. “In my experience, I’ve never seen anything quite like this. We also have to remember that this stemmed from a policy decision to shut down the economy – in order to keep the infection rates of COVID-19 as low as possible.”

“The policy measures that have been put in place have reduced non-essential activity, while simultaneously supplementing employees’ lost incomes through support programs, both federal and provincial.” said Antunes.

A recent Statistics Canada report revealed that almost two million jobs were lost across the country during April 2020. These new figures bring the total number of Canadian jobs lost during the COVID-19 crisis to three million. Furthermore, this rapid decline in employment has trumped previous economic downturns – including the deep recessions of 1981-82 and 2008-09.

Given the imposed shutdown, these numbers do not necessarily come as a shock, but they’re no doubt concerning to employers and employees alike. So, what should businesses leaders do to ease back into some sort of normal business operations?

“As we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, it’d be nice to see a little more alignment from the provinces and territories with the federal government over the requirements for businesses,” said Antunes. “What measures will be in place to help employers get back to normal? And what rules will policy makers require of businesses to ensure they protect their workforce?”

“I would advise employers to look into all of the different options available out there. There’s an awful lot of stimulus that’s been put in place, in terms of loans, tax deferrals, and wage subsidies to help businesses continue to pay salaries.”

Antunes revealed that he believes consumer confidence will be on the rise in time – however, what type of normality we return to is another matter.

“Businesses need to seriously rethink their strategies – especially in regard to adopting new technologies, for telecommuting or providing services” he added. “For example, implementing e-commerce and online sales will be essential to maximize how businesses engage with customers.”

To hear more from Antunes on the future of our Canadian economy, listen to Ultimate’s webinar here.

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