Job-hunting in a pandemic: 'Take a breath because it's not going to be easy'
Layoffs, pay cuts sweep across the economy — but some sectors are still hiring
With each passing day the number of job losses across the country continues to climb.
Hard-hit industries like the airline sector are seeing more than half of the workforce slashed. For those still with a job, many are earning less as companies like Cineplex announce pay cuts across the board.
On Monday, Ontario and Quebec ordered non-essential businesses to close. The move will certainly cause increased economic pain, although business groups are applauding it in hopes of getting ahead of the health risk now to minimize the length of the disruption.
Many other stores across the country are either closed or operating with reduced hours.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week said the federal government has received 500,000 applications for Employment Insurance, compared to just 27,000 for the same week last year.
Professional recruitment firms are seeing openings dry up for all types of employment in just about every sector of the economy.
"Take a breath because it's not going to be easy to find work right away," said Sharlene Massie, founder of Calgary-based About Staffing.
In the last few weeks, half of the firm's job postings had been taken down and the majority of its temporary workers have been released as employers adapt to the spread of COVID-19.
"We don't know exactly what will happen this week, but we're expecting it to go down again substantially," Massie said.
For the most part, job creation and hiring was steady across the country up until the last few weeks, according to Jeff Aplin, CEO of the David Aplin Group
"In terms of the labour market in Canada, it's been an incredible collapse of job losses that I've certainly never seen in my decades in the business," he said.
The travel, tourism, retail, restaurant and convention industries are just some of the hardest hit, he said, and likely face the biggest challenge recovering after the virus risk abates.
There is job growth in some limited sectors right now.
For instance, Aplin expects job opportunities in technology and IT from the main telecom and internet corporations and from firms big and small which play a role in providing or supporting online services.
"A lot of businesses and organizations have been talking for a long time about the digital transformation. Well, it just happened last week. Everybody who can, is working from home. If you can't, you're probably not working," he said.
In addition, the healthcare, delivery and grocery sectors are undergoing a demand in services.
On Monday, online grocer Goodfood announced 500 new positions across the country. The company said it is too soon to quantify the rise in sales and subscribers it has experienced this month, but it's why the company is growing its workforce by about 25 per cent.
"There's definitely been an uptick in demand," said spokesperson Ross Aouameur.
The new jobs are in accounting, technology and warehouse operations. Many of the jobs will be in Montreal, where the company is based, but also at fulfilment centres in Vancouver and Calgary, and with logistics teams in Ottawa and Toronto,.
"We're really looking to build the operational team, but also the support team to make sure we continue to deliver our quality product from coast to coast," he said.
Walmart Canada, Save-On-Foods and Loblaw say they need more workers to keep up with demand as Canadians stock up on household staples to get through the pandemic. Walmart alone said it needs 10,000 more staff.
Several traditional grocers have increased wages for staff in recent weeks. Amazon has temporarily hiked wages and overtime pay for staff in Canada too.
Besides those few sectors, the job market is expected to see many more losses as the virus spreads.
That's why it's difficult for Andrew Ward, with Diversified Staffing Services, to find many bright spots right now.
Still, his advice for job-seekers is to be patient, be positive and keep applying.
"There are still a few corporations that might be looking to add," he said. "It might not be immediate, but they are still planning for the future and they still need assistance."