Sudbury

Survey of Sudbury businesses finds thousands of job losses, with numbers expected to climb

A survey of Sudbury businesses reveals many job layoffs and financial losses, with a number of owners concerned about their ability to stay open.  More than 300 businesses responded to the survey from the Workforce Planning for Sudbury and Manitoulin, about the impact of COVID-19.

Wide range of 300 businesses give picture of potential closures and lay-offs

A survey of businesses in Greater Sudbury finds a number of them don't expect they will be able to re-open because of money lost due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The results of a recent survey of Sudbury businesses reveals many job layoffs and financial losses, with a number of owners concerned about their ability to stay open. 

More than 300 businesses responded to a survey last month about the impact of COVID-19. It was conducted by the Workforce Planning for Sudbury and Manitoulin, in partnership with the City of Greater Sudbury and the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce. 

"We want to make sure that we have our hands on what everyone is going through," said Bryan Welsh, chair of the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce. 

The survey found more than 70 per cent of respondents are worried about significant financial impacts from the pandemic — with 23 per cent worried they may go out of business.

Welsh says the survey identifies issues that the chamber can advocate on behalf of businesses with local, provincial or federal governments.

They need help navigating what he calls a "new landscape" which will include wearing masks, physical distancing and a slower pace of business as the economy gradually re-opens.

Lay-offs may grow exponentially

Reggie Caverson is the executive director of Workforce Planning for Sudbury and Manitoulin. She said she isn't surprised by the survey results, but she nevertheless found them disturbing.

The survey heard from mining contractors, construction, manufacturing, retail trade, transportation warehousing, as well as health care and social assistance, and accommodation and food services.

Caverson says among those 300 businesses, 2,300 employees have been laid off.

"We know that number is probably going to grow exponentially if you had an opportunity to look at all businesses and the changes they had to make," she said.

"While we were not surprised, it's still very disturbing to see the number of people who had to be laid off. It's disturbing to see the number of businesses that are worried that they may not remain viable in the next 3-6 months if this continues."

Caverson continues that the survey really brought home that what is being seen at a global level is also happening here in the Sudbury community, and will have to be addressed despite the uncertainty.

Change inevitable

No matter what, Caverson says she doesn't think any businesses will go back to the way they used to operate.

"We're going to be changing how we look at work, work will be changing."

She says she's posed the question of how to regroup and strategically plan for the future to the chamber and the City of Greater Sudbury already.

Mayor Brian Bigger says it is worrisome that the business landscape will change in Sudbury.

"The best that we can do is find out what the needs are, as well as we can, involve the businesses themselves, and keep in close touch," he said.

"If there are creative ways of helping them out, we're certainly looking for those ideas." 

with files from Sarah MacMillan

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