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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Business Update: September 4th, 2020

Statistics Canada today released the data from the August 2020 Labour Force Survey. With public health restrictions easing across the country, August saw continued economic recovery.
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 today released the data from the August 2020 Labour Force Survey. With public health restrictions easing across the country, August saw continued economic recovery, although it should be stressed that virtually all metrics for economic performance are still below those of February. Highlights include:
    • National employment rose by 246,000 (+1.4%) in August, compared with 419,000 (+2.4%) in July. Combined with gains of 1.2 million in May and June, this brought employment to within 1.1 million (-5.7%) of its pre-COVID February level.
    • The number of Canadians who were employed but worked less than half their usual hours for reasons likely related to COVID-19 fell by 259,000 (-14.6%) in August. Combined with declines in May, June and July, this left COVID-related absences from work at 713,000 (+88.3%) above February levels.
    • Among Canadians who worked their usual hours in August, the total number working from home fell by nearly 300,000 compared with July, while the number working at locations other than home increased by almost 400,000.
    • Employment rose at a faster pace among women (+150,000; +1.8%) than men (+96,000; +1.0%) for the third consecutive month in August. Core-age men (aged 25 to 54) have been the least affected by the shutdown and their employment level in August reached 96.6% of its February level. Youth (aged 15 to 24) were most affected and remained the furthest from their February employment level, with employment for both young men and young women being at 84.7% of February levels.
    • In August, self-employment declined for the first time since April, falling by 58,000 (-2.1%). This was mostly the result of declines in the number of solo self-employed.
    • The unemployment rate fell 0.7 percentage points to 10.2% in August. As a result of the COVID-19 economic shutdown, the unemployment rate had more than doubled from 5.6% in February to a record high of 13.7% in May. By way of comparison, during the 2008/2009 recession, the unemployment rate rose from 6.2% in October 2008 and reached a peak of 8.7% in June 2009.
    • The number of Canadians on temporary layoff rose from 99,000 in February to a record 1.2 million in April, before falling to 460,000 by July. In August, the number of Canadians on temporary layoff continued to decline sharply, falling by half (-49.9%) to 230,000.
    • Employment continued to increase at a faster pace in the services-producing sector (+218,000; +1.5%) in August than in the goods-producing sector (+28,000; +0.7%). Employment reached 94.4% of its pre-COVID February level in the services sector, compared with 93.8% for the goods-producing sector.
    • Employment in Ontario rose by 142,000 in August (+2.0%), nearly all in full-time work, while the unemployment rate fell by 0.7 percentage points to 10.6%. Combined with the employment increases in June and July (+529,000), the gains in August brought employment in Ontario to within 93.6% of its pre-pandemic level.
    • Among parents who have adapted to the COVID-19 economic shutdown by beginning to work from home, just under one-third (32.9%) were concerned in August that a return to their normal work location would bring challenges in terms of childcare or caregiving. This was down slightly from July (-2.7 percentage points). The share citing this concern remained highest among teleworking mothers whose youngest child was less than 6 years old (51.1%).
    • In the St. Catharines-Niagara CMA (i.e. the Niagara region with the exclusion of Grimsby and West Lincoln), unemployment fell from 12.5% in July to 11.3% in August. The unemployment rate in February was 5.5%. An additional 8,200 people were employed in August when compared to July, although this is 15,100 fewer than were employed in August, 2019.
  • The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, today announced a number of initial projects funded under the $77.5 million Emergency Processing Fund (EPF). The EPF is focused on projects to help companies respond to the urgent health and safety needs of workers in agri-food sectors impacted by COVID-19, with an emphasis on supporting meat processing facilities. Nationally, a total of 32 projects have been approved so far, for up to $10.54 million in funding. Businesses interested in the EPF can find more information here.
  • Niagara Health’s three COVID-19 Assessment Centres, located in St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, and Welland, will be closed on Labour Day, Monday, September 7. Although the Assessment Centres will be closed, care is still available to the community through Niagara Health’s Emergency Departments or Urgent Care Centres. For more information about Emergency and Urgent Care at Niagara Health, please visit www.NiagaraHealth.on.ca/options. Please note that Emergency Departments and Urgent Care Centres will not complete routine COVID swabbing and those seeking to be tested for the virus are asked to make an appointment at an Assessment Centre upon reopening. The St. Catharines and Niagara Falls Assessment Centres will reopen at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, September 8, with the Welland centre reopening at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, September 9.
  • Premier Ford has cautioned against throwing parties this long weekend, commenting that “anyone who’s thinking of having a big shindig this weekend, forget about it, cancel it, or we won’t hesitate… to shut it down.” The GNCC urges everyone to follow public health guidelines, to avoid needlessly risking their own health and the health of others, and to stay safe this weekend. The number of people in a space, even an outdoor space, should not exceed the number of people who can gather and maintain a 2-metre distance. Wear masks. Do not share drinks or food. Self-isolate if you feel unwell.

Reading recommendations:


If you are showing symptoms, contact your health care provider, call the Public Health Info-Line at 905-688-8248, or chat to Public Health online. For testing, call 905-378-4647 ext. 42819 (4-CV19) for information on test centres in Niagara and to book an appointment.

Remember that a COVID-19 test is only a snapshot of your health on the specific date and time the swab was taken. No testing is perfect and a negative result doesn’t mean you haven’t been exposed to COVID-19. You can still develop symptoms days after your test was taken.

It is important that everyone practice physical distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Maintain a 2-metre distance from other people. When maintaining distance is impossible, wear a mask or face covering. Wash hands frequently and thoroughly. Avoid touching the face. 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.