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Some Whitehorse businesses fearing COVID-19-related bankruptcy: survey

A survey commissioned by the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce found 55 per cent of responding businesses are afraid of falling into greater debt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Survey says 45 per cent of respondents afraid they won't be able to pay their bills

An empty street in Whitehorse. If the streets remain this empty heading into the normally busy summer season, Yukon businesses could be in trouble. (Karen McColl/CBC)

survey commissioned by the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce found 55 per cent of responding businesses are afraid of falling into greater debt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The results represent only the businesses who responded to the survey. It was conducted by Strategic Moves, a research-based independent consultancy located in Whitehorse between May 7 to May 20. There were 211 businesses that responded to the survey, which was conducted online. 

The survey indicates the hardest-hit sectors are tourism, restaurants and arts and culture. Businesses in these sectors have the greatest uncertainty about whether or not government programs are enough to help them make it through the pandemic, according to the survey. 

Here's a look at some other findings the survey had:

  • 45 per cent of respondents are afraid they won't be able to pay their bills.
  • 29 per cent are afraid they won't be able to retire as planned.
  • 18 per cent worry about going bankrupt because of the COVID-19 pandemic response.
  • 17 per cent are worried they won't be able to sell their business as planned.

Home-based businesses and sole proprietors overlooked: survey

Strategic Moves states in their findings that 61 per cent of businesses in Yukon are run out of people's homes.

"Home-based businesses don't receive the same benefits as businesses that rent even though their expenses may not be much lower when they carry a mortgage and pay property tax," one part of the survey analysis reads. 

Some of these home-based businesses are also sole-proprietorships, which means the owner is 100 per cent responsible for any losses and business debts. 

"Sole proprietors, especially small ones, can fall through the cracks of the business support programs due to not having payroll/ not employing others in a traditional employment situation, but still having significant revenue losses," the survey analysis reads, in part. 

The survey also suggests that losses required to quality for financial aid programs are too high.  

"In some industries, a 10 per cent loss of revenue can mean bankruptcy while in others, that level of loss may be more of an inconvenience requiring minor adjustments. For most programs, a minimum 30 per cent loss or more must be demonstrated," part of the survey analysis reads. 

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