COVID-19: The Road to Recovery

Updated: February 22, 2024

Woman wearing glasses in urban environment

Canadian Economics    February 22, 2024

How are higher interest rates weighing on spending behaviour, employment growth, and housing markets in cities across Canada? Despite this pressure, which sectors of local economies keep adding jobs? We share our urban economic outlook, including local GDP, employment, and population growth.

Online experience  •  8-min read

Beautiful pink, orange, purple and blue colours in this sunset photo taken in Victoria Park

Calgary’s Creative Industries

Canadian Economics   February 13, 2024

In 2019, the creative sector in Calgary employed more than 18,100 people and supported almost $3.4 billion in revenues for local businesses. It also generated $1.9 billion in direct GDP and $1.4 billion in wages.

Impact paper  •  13-min read

Switching to Glide: Travel Markets Outlook

Canadian Economics   February 8, 2024

Canadians love to spend on travel and tourism. Even as dark clouds formed above the economy, this spending continued largely unabated for much of 2022 and into 2023. After being unable to travel for more than two years during the height of the pandemic, pent-up demand helped to set the pace of the tourism industry’s recovery.

Online experience  •  8-min read

Building frame structure on a new development site

Canada’s Housing Affordability Challenge

Canadian Economics   January 29, 2024

Population pressures exacerbated already strong residential demand. This demand was driven by two other factors: a prolonged period of low interest rates implemented following the 2009 financial crisis, which ended in early 2022; and an accumulation of excess savings during the pandemic. With people unable to spend on many services, and many forced to work from home, investment in larger and better living spaces surged.

Impact paper  •  16-min read

Available Research

Insights

Working Through COVID-19 Series

Throughout the pandemic, The Conference Board of Canada conducted a number of surveys on the changes it wrought on people and organizations. This is what they had to say.

The pandemic has super-spread disruption, transforming the way we work like never before. In March 2020, many organizations had to send large numbers of their employees home. What was long considered improbable—a remote workforce—became an immediate reality. Now, with the vaccine rollout well under way, organizations are beginning to consider what the workplace of the not-so-distant future will look like.

Canada is early in its rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, and unknowns remain around the legality of an employer’s role in supporting vaccination efforts. In most cases, employers will be legally limited to encouraging employees to get vaccinated—and that’s what the majority plan to do.

COVID-19 has shed new light on the importance of mental health and wellness. Organizations, and the programs they provide, play a pivotal role in supporting employees’ wellness through these tough times. The Conference Board of Canada asked organizations across the country how they’re managing employee wellness through benefits for the largest group of their full-time workforce.

From family obligations to remote work, we’ve surveyed COVID-19’s effects on Canadian employers and workers. But how is the pandemic changing the ebbs, flows, and makeup of the workforce? We asked organizations about how COVID-19 is affecting their turnover, attraction, and retention rates—and the strategies they’ve put in place to manage.

COVID-19 is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. Will employers keep their employees working remotely? And will remote workers be on the hook for home office expenses?

Pre-pandemic, nine in 10 organizations had less than 20 per cent of their workforce working remotely. COVID-19 has flipped this on its head. Now, nearly two thirds of organizations have at least 60 per cent of their workforce working remotely.

Summer is typically prime vacation time. Will it be this year? With nowhere to go and travel restrictions still in effect, employees may be less motivated to use their vacation in the coming months.

This is a top concern among employers that could lead to paying out large amounts of unused vacation, or more employees taking time off at year-end. Organizations are encouraging—or even requiring—their employees to draw down their accrued vacation. Only a small number of organizations are directing when employees must take this time off.

As provinces move to ease restrictions, Canadian organizations must consider a return of their employees to physical workplaces. With COVID-19 still active, what will this shift look like, and how prepared are employers for the risks? How will this impact working arrangements in the long term?

Only 8 per cent of organizations are fully prepared to reopen workplaces. 40 per cent will require employees currently working remotely to return to the workplace in some capacity. This is most common in transportation and warehousing, where 58 per cent of employers have taken this approach.

As COVID-19 distancing measures continue into the year, Canadian organizations are exploring ways to reduce any overhead they can. How is this affecting employee benefits coverage?

68 per cent of organizations have not made—nor are they considering making—any changes to the employee benefits offerings we surveyed. Leading the pack, 46 per cent of utility companies have made or are considering making changes to employee benefits coverage. Retail trade follows at 44 per cent of companies. Almost all organizations in these industries are looking to increase coverage as opposed to reducing it. Across all organizations that have made changes, 46 per cent increased their paid sick leave.

As COVID-19 distancing—and budgeting—measures continue, many HR leaders are re-evaluating the status of upcoming salary increases and short-term incentive payouts.

The Conference Board of Canada has asked organizations across Canada how they’re managing pay planning for employees at all levels. Here’s what we found.

As COVID-19 continues to shift the daily rhythms of Canadian households, millions of Canadians are feeling the pinch to balance competing demands of work and family. What are their employers doing to help?

The Conference Board has asked organizations across Canada how they’re accommodating employees with family responsibilities. Here’s what we found.

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.

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 per cent of organizations are navigating our new reality with employees who cannot work remotely.

Mental Health and COVID-19 Video Series

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.

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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.