Most B.C. business leaders expect to cut at least 50% of staff: survey

Nine in 10 B.C. businesses are currently impacted by the virus; one quarter of respondents expect their company to cut 100 per cent of employees

Business in Vancouver
March 20, 2020

Image by Getty Images

Nearly 1,400 B.C. business representatives expect to see their workforce reduced by 100 per cent due to the widespread health, social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.

That figure represents a quarter of the more than 5,400 respondents to a new survey from the BC Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Small Business BC, the BC Economic Development Association and Community Futures BC.

Sixty-four per cent expect their company to cut 50 per cent or more of its workforce. Only 10 per cent of respondents expect the crisis to have no impact on their staffing levels.

There were more than 520 presidents, CEOs, owners and executive directors who said they expect to entirely cut their staff.

For most businesses that participated in the survey, the business impacts they are experiencing are severe. Three-quarters of just over 7,150 respondents characterized COVID-19’s impact on their business as significantly negative. Another 19 per cent noted a low level of negative impact. 

Some of the top impacts currently being experienced include:

• a decrease in revenue, business or deal flow (83 per cent);

• a decrease in demand for products and services (58 per cent);

• customers avoiding locations or services (52 per cent);

• cancellation of critical meetings, gatherings or events (50 per cent);

• temporary or indefinite office closures (32 per cent); and

• staff absences due to voluntary self-quarantines (29 per cent).

Of nearly 8,000 respondents, 90 per cent indicated that their business is currently affected by COVID-19.

“It’s no question that public health has to be the number one priority at this time,” said Dale Wheeldon, president and CEO of the BC Economic Development Association. “Our local business community provides us with a standard of living we are all accustomed to, and it's important to support them now. We will need them there for us in the future... Collectively we need to act now to implement measures like loan guarantees, flexibility with tax payments, development of programs to enhance economic development at the community level, recognizing that not one solution will fit all.”

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