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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Business Update: May 8th, 2020, 2:30pm

Information on government grants, resources, and programs, and how to apply for them, is available here.
The Government of Canada has a support page with summaries of current programs and application portals.

Vital updates:

  •  Statistics Canada published its data for the April, 2020 Labour Force Survey. The national picture, unsurprisingly, is not good. Following a drop of over one million in March, employment fell by nearly two million in April, bringing the total employment decline since the beginning of the COVID-19 economic shutdown to over three million. The size of the decline since February (-15.7%) far exceeds declines observed in previous labour market downturns. For example, the 1981-1982 recession resulted in a total employment decline of 612,000 (-5.4%) over approximately 17 months.
  • The employment situation in the St. Catharines-Niagara CMA is poor, but so far, declines are less than in the country as a whole. The unemployment rate locally is 9.9%, up from 5.5% in February, whereas the national rate is 13%, up from 5.6% over the same period. Labour participation (the percentage of the population either working or seeking work) is down from 59.6% in February to 56.4% in March locally, while the national rate declined from 65.5% to 59.8%. Niagara’s participation rate is generally lower owing to several factors, including an older-than-average population with a greater number of retirees, and a large student body attending post-secondary institutions, some of whom are not seeking work (it is also worth noting that students seeking work are not counted in the unemployment figures).
  • It should be noted that Niagara’s rate is based on a three-month average, which means data from February and March are “pulling down” the official unemployment rate, whereas national and provincial data is not. Niagara’s true unemployment rate is likely much higher.   
  • For the GNCC’s full report on the labour force survey, click here.
  • In the daily provincial briefing, Finance Minister Rod Phillips promised more details on the re-opening framework soon, but with no specific dates offered.

Reading recommendations:


If you are showing symptoms, you must self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days. Call a public health authority immediately. Do not visit any healthcare provider in person before you have been directly advised to by public health authorities.

It is important that everyone practice physical distancing to prevent the spread of aCOVID-19. Remain at home unless absolutely necessary. Minimize contact with other people. Wash hands frequently and thoroughly. Avoid touching the face. Maintain a 2-meter distance from others if you are required to be out in public. If you have recently traveled outside the country, you are legally required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Previous updates can be accessed here.

Stay safe and be vigilant. The GNCC is here to support you. Contact us with any questions you have.