Media Releases Mar 05, 2021

Over half of Canadian businesses don’t know how long they can continue – grim numbers from the most recent Canadian Survey on Business Conditions

(OTTAWA) – March 5, 2021 – The Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Policy, Dr. Trevin Stratton, issued the following statement regarding today’s Canadian Survey on Business Conditions numbers:

“Today’s numbers from the Canadian Survey on Business Conditions give us the most recent snapshot of the health of our business community, and unfortunately they are sending a very clear message – the light at the end of this pandemic tunnel is still a long way off for most Canadian businesses.

With a whopping 51 per cent reporting they did not know how long they could continue to operate at their current level of revenue and expenditures before considering closure or bankruptcy, the coping ability of businesses to weather the pandemic is quickly dwindling. Forty per cent stated they cannot take on more debt, with the burden even higher for small businesses.

  • Only 38.4% of businesses expect they’ll be able to operate for 12 months or longer at current revenue levels.
  • 51.3% of all business do not know how long they’ll be able to continue to operate at current revenue levels, with smaller businesses facing higher unknowns (52.2% for 1-4 employees; 50.9% for 5-19 employees; 49.3% for 20-99 employees; 44.2% for 100 or more employees).
  • Nearly half (46.4%) of businesses did not know how long they could continue to operate at current levels before considering laying off staff.
  • Close to one-third (29.6%) of businesses in accommodation and food services expect a reduction in their number of employees over the next three months.
  • More small businesses are at their debt limit: 41.8% of businesses with 1-4 and 5-19 employees are unable to take on more debt; 29.0% for 20-99 employees; 17.1% for 100 or more employees.

Following 2020’s GDP numbers released earlier this week, today’s CSBC data offers the first glimpse of what Canada’s businesses and our economy is facing in the first quarter of 2021. These numbers point to a compounding effect of previous lockdowns. With each new wave businesses are stretched thinner, and a third round of lockdowns could be the breaking point for many.

Looking forward, Canada must find new answers to manage the pandemic until vaccination rates increase. We simply cannot afford to take the same approach we’ve seen used over the past year. We need a viable reopening plan that takes a holistic approach with a focus on tools like rapid-testing and robust contact tracing.

The survival of our businesses depends on it.

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.


For more information, please contact:

Phil Taylor