We all know the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had, on individuals, healthcare, the workforce, education, and society at large. The most diverse neighbourhoods in Ontario experienced higher rates of COVID-19 related hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and deaths compared to neighbourhoods that are less diverse, according to Ontario Public Health. Businesses closed, people lost their jobs, and everyone needed help. According to StatsCan, a vast majority of EI applications received from March 15 to October 3, 2020 were established as CERB claims, representing a total of $74.08 billion. The Canadian Career Academy wanted to tell the story of the early pandemic days and its effects on small to medium sized enterprises in rural and small urban centres in Ontario. The result is the short film, The Road to Recovery.
The pandemic exacerbated factors that were already causing problems for SMEs, specifically these businesses were already experiencing staffing shortages before the pandemic hit. In places like eastern Ontario, like Lanark County and Kingston, retail and hospitality industries were hit first, then supply chains were impacted. The pandemic created urban out migration, however it did not supply people needed to SMEs, it did drive up housing prices, affected the supply chain, and increased infrastructure costs as people looked for better quality of life in smaller cities.
2 Things We Need to Get On the Road to Recovery?
In Canada, 2022 began with an increase of 72% vacancies or 874,700 unfilled positions, according to StatsCan. Now that people are starting to go back to work, many workforce organizations believe that we need two things to see success for our SMEs:
- Businesses need to pay people better to incentivize their leaving the relative safety of work from home
- changes to immigration must be made to fill labour force gaps. Immigrants and refugees want to work but have trouble finding settlement and job retention. Support must be provided both in getting newcomers into Canada and providing them with opportunities once they’re here.
Luckily, there is a general feeling of optimism. In March 2022, the unemployment rate in Canada fell to 5.3% and was the lowest rate on record since comparable data became available available in 1976, per StatsCan. The pandemic forced workforce organizations and agencies, businesses, and communities to work together in order to succeed and this cooperation should not and cannot be lost in a post-COVID world. It is only through continued collaboration that SMEs, workers, and communities will continue to see success and growth.
Watch Canadian Career Academy’s Road to Recovery
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