Media Releases Apr 09, 2021

Hope is not a strategy as labour market scars will linger – Statement on today’s Labour Force Survey by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce


(OTTAWA) – April 9, 2021 – The Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Senior Director of Workforce Strategies and Inclusive Growth, Leah Nord, issued the following statement regarding today’s Labour Force Survey numbers:

“Although two months of solid job gains are encouraging, it’s still likely to be a long, bumpy journey to the end of the pandemic tunnel for Canadian business-owners and their employees as the third wave of COVID-19 breaks across the country, threatening to disrupt the positive trends we’ve seen in today’s numbers.

Over a year into the pandemic, the bumps keep coming. Canadian businesses in many parts of the country are facing yet another round of lockdowns. In the most recent Canadian Survey on Business Conditions from Statistics Canada, collected before this third lockdown, 51% of Canadian businesses said they did not know how long they could continue to operate at their current level of revenue and expenditures before considering closure and bankruptcy. This will further negatively impact the labour force long term.

Canadians and the businesses that employ them are not in the same financial position as they were in the spring of 2019. It’s time we start seriously considering the cumulative impacts of lockdowns and the breaking points for both of them, because they may be heading into the perfect storm.

Next month’s numbers will also begin to illustrate the impact the third wave will have on women in the workforce and young Canadians. With school closures looming and summer break fast approaching, juggling childcare and work responsibilities will once more become a logistical and mental health burden that may very well lead to primary care givers, the majority of whom are women, leaving the workforce. Add to this the fact that graduating classes of young Canadians will soon be trying to enter a workforce where 83% of businesses reported that they were not expecting to increase the number of employees in the next few months, and the warmer months do not look as rosy for Canada’s labour force.  

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Survey on Business Conditions, January – February 2021; Deloitte & Canadian Chamber of Commerce analysis

Through all of this, the light at the end of the tunnel has always been vaccinations. But unfortunately hope is not a strategy, and until we achieve widespread vaccination, Canadian businesses need certainty if they are to save or create jobs. The combination of trying to weather another round of lockdowns, keeping schools open and women in the workforce, supporting mental health, and providing the opportunities young Canadians will leave labour market scars that will last well into economic recovery.

Canadian businesses will play the lead role in Canada’s economic recovery, but there can be no business-led recovery to get Canadians back to work without governments working together to manage the pandemic and get the open signs back on.”

About the Canadian Chamber of Commerce – Because Business Matters

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce helps build the businesses that support our families, our communities and our country. We do this by influencing government policy, by providing essential business services and by connecting businesses to information they can use, to opportunities for growth and to a network of local chambers, businesses, decision-makers and peers from across the country, in every sector of the economy and at all levels of government, as well as internationally. We are unapologetic in our support for business and the vital role it plays in building and sustaining our great nation.

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For more information, please contact:

Emily Walsh
ewalsh@chamber.ca