EDMONTON — A recent business impact survey—a joint effort between the Alberta Chambers of Commerce (ACC), Community Futures Alberta, and Economic Developers Alberta (EDA)—shows many businesses will face obstacles to Alberta's phase one economic relaunch, scheduled to begin May 14.
The survey—which took place online between April 10 and April 26, 2020—revealed half of Alberta businesses have laid off employees while 42 per cent of respondents have employees working reduced hours. Among businesses reporting layoffs, 57 per cent of respondents say they have laid off more than half their employees.
ACC President and CEO Ken Kobly cautions that rehiring laid-off employees won't necessarily be an immediate step with Alberta's economic reopening.
"Rehiring will be a question of people’s perception of security and confidence that they will be safe, and not simply a matter of opening business doors," says Kobly. "Along the same lines, business recovery will be dependent on public perception and resources; people need to feel safe patronizing local businesses and have the means to do so. That could take time."
Seventy-four per cent of businesses are pessimistic about the pace of Alberta's recovery, with low oil and gas prices and difficulty exporting oil compounding the economic challenges of COVID-19. More than 60 per cent of respondents cite permanent damage to customers' ability to pay as the primary reason they expect economic recovery to be slow. Among retail respondents, this number is 10 per cent higher.
While these results are staggering, the ACC, Community Futures Alberta, and EDA agree on the importance of quality data to inform response, recovery, and reopening strategies.
"The insights this survey provides are vital indicators for our province," says Community Futures Alberta Executive Director Phyllis Maki. "We’re grateful to the hundreds of local businesses that provided feedback, and we are eager to join with our partners across Alberta to begin building a road to recovery."
All three organizations also underscore the importance of collaboration during this unprecedented period.
"Now more than ever, collaboration to advance Alberta’s economy is essential—and this survey is a strong example," says Economic Developers Alberta CEO Leann Hackman Carty. "As Alberta’s economic development network, we are confident these survey results will help equip our economic developers with information they need to continue essential work to help repair our economy, accelerate economic recovery, and create a more resilient province in the months and years ahead."
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For comment, please contact:
President and CEO
Alberta Chambers of Commerce
(P) 780.425.4180 Ext.5