(Kingston, ON) Research by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce shows 62 per cent of businesses in the Kingston-Pembroke region have shrunk as a result of the events of 2020.
The Ontario Economic Report (OER) 2020, released today, also revealed 58 per cent of organizations in the Kingston-Pembroke region let staff go – a number that is slightly higher than the provincial average of 47 per cent. These terminations and layoffs caused the unemployment rate in the Kingston area to spike to 8.6 per cent.
“Given our reliance on tourism and our proximity to the border, some of these results are unsurprising – but they show we have a lot of work to do to ensure a strong economic recovery,” said Karen Cross, CEO of the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce. “No business, region, sector, or demographic should be left behind in our pursuit of recovery and growth. We’re encouraged by government efforts to support businesses so far, which have been appreciated, and hope to see sustained programs through 2021 aimed at those experiencing the most pronounced challenges.”
Some other key results from the 2020 OER:
- Findings indicate that employment growth declined throughout the province with women, lower-income, racialized, new immigrant, and younger Ontarians suffering the biggest job losses. Small businesses and entrepreneurs were also disproportionately impacted.
- Sectors most negatively impacted by the crisis included: accommodation and food services; arts, entertainment, recreation, and retail. Businesses in these sectors were among those most pessimistic about the economic outlook and most likely to have shrunk and let go of staff in 2020.
“The current health and economic crises have had a considerable negative impact on our economy. Only 21 percent of businesses are confident in Ontario’s economic outlook—a historic low—reflecting the stark reality in which businesses continue to grapple with the financial and logistical challenges of operating under a pandemic,” says Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.
The OER also includes a number of recommendations to help businesses rebound in 2021, including reskilling initiatives, increased access to broadband internet, and a focus on COVID-19 vaccinations.
“When businesses struggle, it affects us all,” notes Cross. “Local businesses provide employment, they sell goods and services we need, and they support community causes. Supporting local businesses, while remaining compliant with COVID restrictions, should remain a top priority for us all this year. We’re grateful for the continued support of Kingstonians and our elected officials during this challenging time.”