As cases of the novel coronavirus grow, so to the effects on business and the economy in sectors all across Canada.
The airline industry has been hard hit with layoffs announced in almost all of Canada’s airlines as people are told to stay at home, major events often requiring travel are cancelled, and also due to the basic concerns about having people in close quarters aboard aircraft.
The latest airline announcements come on the heels of an Air Transat announcement on Monday of a layoff of some 3,700 of its staff.
Calgary-based WestJet Airlines on Tuesday announced that it was reducing staff by about 50 per cent.
The airline asked employees to choose among the options of early retirement, reduced hours or pay, or resign. The almost 7,000 departures also includes layoffs. The reductions began yesterday with another wave to leave on April 1. All international flights have been cancelled for 30 days, and domestic flights greatly reduced.
Canada’s main air carrier, Air Canada with its subsidiary Rouge, earlier announced layoffs of just over half of its total of 9,750 flight attendants. The 4,400 pilots have agreed to pay cuts and some 600 will be laid off. The airline is suspending most of its U.S. and overseas flights.
Along with the airline industry which is suffering globally, the hotel industry and tourism are also deeply affected.
Many of Canada’s oldest and most prestigious hotels have decided to simply close up and wait out the crisis. These include some of Canada’s world renowned resorts such as the Banff Springs hotel in Banff National Park. National Parks in Canada were closed and the town, which depends hugely on tourism is closed to outsiders, only allowing through traffic on the highway through town.
Many thousands of the staff at these hotels are also now laid off. Other hotels and motels still open have seen occupancy fall to a mere ten per cent and if still operation, have also reduced staff.
With so little travel need from tourists and residents, taxi companies across the country in major urban centres as well as smaller cities, have laid off staff or simply temporarily ceased operations. This has affected thousands of drivers across the country.
Last week some 500,000 Canadians applied for Employment Insurance (EI) which is Canada’s long-standing progamme to provide temporary payment to people who have lost their jobs. That figure has now risen to 1,000,000 applications. Still a third of Canadians
say they are very concerned about being able to make payments for their rent or mortgages.
The International Monetary Fund has predicted that the pandemic will cause a global recession potentially worse than that of 2008-2009. However with a ray of hope, it also says there should be recovery in 2021
Additional information sources:
- Reuters: Shalal/Lawder: Mar 23/20: IMF sees pandemic causing global recession in 2020, recovery in 2021
- CBC: R. Fletcher: Mar 24/20: National Parks closing to visitors amid COVID-19 pandemic
- Victoria Times-Colonist: L. Kines: Mar.24/20: Empress. Grand Pacific hotels close doors, hundreds laid off
- Canadian Press (via CTV): Mar 20/20: Air Canada lays off more than 5,000 flight attendants over COVID-19 pandemic
- Canadian Press (via Global): C. Reynolds: Mar 24/20: WestJet announces layoffs for nearly 50% of staff, Air Canada reduces pilots
- CTV: S. Scott: Mar 24/20: At least 2 Vancouver cab companies suspending service amid COVID-19 crisis