COVID-19

Implications for Canada and the economic impact

Updated  April 8, 2020

Things are changing quickly, and an evidence-based perspective on coronavirus is essential.

This site is our go-to resource for insights and analysis on COVID-19. Here, we bring you quick-read articles based on our multi-disciplinary research. Each article gives you a fact-based understanding of the complex issues impacting you and your organization.

Check this space often for the latest updates, data, forecasts, research on the growing spread of coronavirus, and useful tools that will help you and your organizations navigate these challenging times.

 All resources listed on this page are free.

Message from the CEO

Here at The Conference Board of Canada, we have made the decision to give all Canadians access to our up-to-date and timely economic reports during this global pandemic. In times of crisis it is important we do what we can to help one another. Please make use of our additional free resources such as webinars, informative blogs, and a special mental health COVID video series.

We continue to deliver our unique, unbiased insight into Canada’s toughest problems so leaders can make informed decisions. As we move through these uncertain times, we are also innovating our research and products to respond to new challenges and to re-build an even stronger Canada.

Susan Black

Dr. Susan Black, CEO

The Conference Board of Canada

Daily updates

The Conference Board of Canada stands ready to provide Canadian leaders with the insights they need to confidently navigate the shifting realities of COVID-19.

Free resources

What employers need to know about COVID-19: Updated advice for employers

Webinar April 8, 2020
(Recording coming soon)

Focus Area—Health

Bracing for major job losses

Quick Take April 6, 2020

Focus Area—Canadian Economics

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Videos

Mental health and COVID-19

Join the conversation with Dr. Bill Howatt, Chief of Research, Workplace Productivity.

Focus Area—Human Resources

The contents of these videos is provided for general information only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Recorded webinars and interviews

Economic impact

Current forecasts

April 8, 2020

Consumer confidence fell to a record low and saw its steepest monthly decline in April. The drop comes on the heels March’s record decline and shows that COVID-19 is making Canadians across the country anxious. The speed of the decline is unprecedented, and a sign of how quickly Canada s economy is deteriorating. For comparison, in the 2008 financial crisis, the index fell by 73 points in 13 months. In response to COVID-19, the index has declined by 73 points in just two months.

Focus Area—Canadian Economics

Consumer confidence plummets to record low

(index, 2014 = 100)

2006 08 10 12 14 16 18 20 40 60 80 100 120 140

Source: The Conference Board of Canada.

April 6, 2020

Canada will suffer record job losses in March and April—with lower-wage workers taking the brunt of the hit. The situation is causing us to reassess the economic impact of COVID-19 on the national and regional economies.

Shutting down most, if not all, non-essential services across Canada could lead to an estimated cumulative loss of 2.8 million jobs in March and April—nearly 15 per cent of total employment. These estimates are supported by the number of employment insurance claims, which have topped 2 million over the last few weeks.

Focus Area—Canadian Economics

20 sectors forecast to be most affected by job losses

  Job losses Average weekly wage
Full- and limited-service eating places 444,338 381.01
Other amusement & recreation industries 160,050 476.12
Personal care services 137,100 524.60
Traveller accommodation 129,120 593.09
Clothing stores 100,970 449.47
Residental building construction 73,160 1,080.42
Automobile dealers 70,920 1,132.10
Motion picture & video industries 60,000 1,017.92
Independent artists, writers, & performers 60,000 1,067.69
Depository credit intermediation 57,375 1,228.97
Services to buildings & dwellings 57,300 676.57
Other schools & instruction 55,200 499.01
Health & personal care stores 41,300 659.07
Motor vehicle parts manufacturing 40,200 1,073.57
Scheduled air transportation 40,000 1,216.84
Building equipment contractors 35,830 1,301.85
Building material & supplies dealers 33,633 729.06
Other miscellaneous store retailers 33,510 562.33
Performing arts companies 33,320 731.79
Taxi & limousine service 33,250 595.36

Sources: The Conference Board of Canada; Statistics Canada, Table 14-10-0204-01.

March 23, 2020

In this alternate scenario (of the Canadian Outlook: Spring 2020), we assume the travel bans and social distancing measures now in effect will continue until the end of August, both in Canada and the United States. The result is a much deeper and longer-lasting hit to Canadian economic activity—real GDP is forecast to fall by 1.1 per cent in 2020, instead of growing 0.3 per cent as in our baseline forecast.

In this scenario, the economy sheds over 330,000 jobs over the second and third quarters of 2020, boosting the unemployment rate to 7.7 per cent. Industries servicing tourism, household services, and resource sector construction will be hit hard. Many of them will suffer double-digit declines in the second and third quarters.

Focus Area—Canadian Economics

Hit to real GDP would be deeper and longer

(real GDP, 2012 $ trillions)

2016 17 18 19f 20f 21f 1.90 1.95 2.00 2.05 2.10 2.15 2.20 Alternate Baseline

f = forecast
Sources: Statistics Canada; The Conference Board of Canada.

March 17, 2020

Canada’s economic growth ground to a halt in the fourth quarter of 2019. With the economy already on precarious footing, the added shocks of the recent rail blockade protests, the arrival of COVID-19, and a collapse in oil prices have brought the country to the brink of recession.

The Canadian economy grew by just 0.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2019, its weakest performance since the second quarter of 2016. The sluggishness was the result of declines in business investment and exports, which were only partially offset by continued strength in consumer spending.

Now, with the economy being hit by a slew of additional shocks, we expect business investment and exports to post substantial declines and consumer spending to ease. As a result, economic growth will contract by a projected 2.7 per cent in the second quarter. However, growth should resume in the third quarter, allowing the economy to avoid a technical recession. Unfortunately, there are huge downside risks to our outlook due to the unpredictability of the coronavirus pandemic. Overall, we expect growth of just 0.3 per cent in 2020 followed by a rebound to 2.5 per cent growth in 2021.

Focus Area—Canadian Economics

Canada teeters on the brink of recession

(real GDP growth, per cent)

2017 18 19 20f 21f 22f 23 24f 0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 3.5 Forecast

f = forecast
Sources: The Conference Board of Canada; Statistics Canada.

Previous forecasts

March 18, 2020

The Index of Consumer Confidence fell 32.0 points in March, the largest monthly decline ever.

Canadians are anxious about the coronavirus. This has implications for Canada’s economy given that consumers have been the main engine of economic growth. With people being encouraged to self-isolate, large gatherings being mostly cancelled, and tourism activity drying up, many Canadians are staying home, which will have a profound impact on economic growth.

There were no positives in this month’s survey—every region saw a double-digit decline in confidence and every question saw a significant weakening in responses.

Focus Area—Canadian Economics

Index of consumer confidence

(2004 = 100)

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 79 84 89 94 99 104 109 114 119 124 129

Source: The Conference Board of Canada.

Working through COVID-19: Series

April 1, 2020

The Conference Board has asked HR professionals across Canada about the many ways they’re supporting their public-facing workers. Here’s what we found.

Nine out of 10 organizations offering premiums are adding a fixed amount to employees’ pay. On average, employers are providing $4.43 per hour worked.

Focus Area—Human Resources

Few front-line employees rewarded for service so far

(n = 157; percentage of organizations)

Q: Are you providing pay premiums to non-unionized employees still coming into work?

Yes Front-line No 0 10 21% 8% 71% 87% 8% 5% 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 Considering Non-front-line

Note: Totals may not add to 100 due to rounding.
Source: The Conference Board of Canada.

March 25, 2020

The spread of the novel coronavirus disease is changing the nature of work. For many Canadians, it’s also changing how they get paid. As businesses adapt to physical distancing, how are Canada’s workers—especially those who cannot do their jobs remotely—being supported by their organizations?

91% of organizations are navigating our new reality with employees who cannot work remotely.

Focus Area—Human Resources

Locked out of work, but still being paid

(n = 160; percentage of organizations)

Q: How are you compensating employees who cannot access their physical workplace and cannot otherwise perform their work remotely?

Paid leave until workplaces reopen Unpaid leave Regular pay for a period, then paid leave Regular pay for a period, then unpaid leave Paid leave for a period, then unpaid leave Case-by-case Regular pay until workplaces reopen 10 0 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 1% 4% 9% 10% 12% 23% 41%

Note: Total is greater than 100 as respondents could select more than one option.
Source: The Conference Board of Canada.

Latest news

Current insights

Available research

 All resources listed below are free.

Webinars

 All resources listed below are free.

Woman drinking from a mug at a table with a tablet device

What employers need to know about COVID-19: Updated advice for employers

Webinar April 8, 2020
(Recording coming soon)

Focus Area—Health

Man drinking coffee on his couch looking at his phone

Creating a respectful virtual workplace

Webinar September 24, 2019

Focus Area—Human Resources, Inclusion

Two women talking

Increasing resilience through times of change

Webinar May 15, 2018

Focus Area—Human Resources, Leadership

COVID-19 and our events

We have been closely monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak. The well-being of our event attendees remains our primary concern.

Currently, we are exercising caution and taking advice from the relevant authorities. As a result, we will be postponing or cancelling select events. If you are already registered for an event, you will receive an e-mail with revised details.

Event Date Status New date
Quebec Regional Sounding Mar 25 Postponed Coming soon
Mental Health in the Capital 2020 Mar 31–Apr 1 Postponed Mar 30–31, 2021
Charting progress: Navigating psychological safety in the workplace (Mental health workshop) Various dates Postponed Coming soon
British Columbia Regional Sounding Apr 7 Postponed Oct 27
Value-Based Healthcare Canada: Second Summit Apr 21–23 Postponed
Canadian Immigration Summit 2020 May 13–14 Rescheduled May 26–27, 2021
Strategic Foresight Workshop May 26–28 Postponed
Sustainable Finance | Clean Energy May 28 Cancelled
The Next Recession Conference Jun 17 Cancelled
Better Workplace Conference 2020 Nov 9–10 Unchanged
Indigenous STEM pathways: 2021 and beyond May 2021 Cancelled

FAQs

If your event is postponed

What if the new dates don’t work for me?

Your ticket will be transferable within your company. Should no one be available to attend, we can apply a credit to your account.

Will the agenda be the same?

COVID-19 will impact every facet of Canadian society. As always, The Conference Board of Canada will convene the most relevant experts to explore the current Canadian context. We will update the agenda and topics as we confirm availability with our speakers.

Will be accommodation be affected?

We are currently negotiating a partnership for accommodation.

If your event is cancelled

When can I expect my refund?

Please allow 30 days for us to refund your fees.

How will I know when my refund has been processed?

All registrants will receive an emailed refund notification including the refunded amount.

From our partners at Conference Board Inc.

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Additional resources

As an evidence-based organization, we know how important reliable information is. We have created a list of additional credible sources for COVID-19 updates and information.

Woman with clasped hands in front of her mouth reading from her laptop; hands holding a smartphone

The spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has created uncertainty in all global markets. We’re doing our best to provide timely updates, but information can fall out of date quickly. The Conference Board of Canada reserves the right to adjust content as necessary. Any errors or omissions in fact or interpretation are the responsibility of The Conference Board of Canada.