Ontario Economic Report outlines latest sector-specific data on economy, business confidence, employment, and government supports
Bay of Quinte, ON – Today, the Bay of Quinte Regional Chambers of Commerce, (Belleville, Prince Edward County and Quinte West) and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) released the fifth annual Ontario Economic Report (OER). Providing the latest data on Ontario’s economy and business confidence, this report is highlighting the unprecedented year that was 2020 and the unpredictability that lies in the year ahead. Public policy makers looking at strategies to support Ontario’s long-term economic recovery will benefit from the findings outlined in the OCC’s flagship annual report.
“The current health and economic crises have had a considerable negative impact on our economy. Only 21 percent of businesses are confident in Ontario’s economic outlook—a historic low— reflecting the stark reality in which businesses continue to grapple with the financial and logistical challenges of operating under a pandemic,” says Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.
The 2021 OER uncovers the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on small businesses and entrepreneurs as well as specific regions, sectors, and demographics, highlighting the major vulnerabilities and opportunities Ontario will face in the year ahead.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and lifeblood of our communities. Our small business members are the least confident in the province’s economy, as they continue to face unprecedented liquidity constraints, increased costs, and reduced revenues,” said Lesley Lavender, Executive Director at the Prince Edward County Chamber of Commerce.
This year’s OER also reveals the hardest-hit sectors were those requiring considerable face-to-face contact, namely: accommodation and food services; arts, entertainment, and recreation; and retail. Findings indicate that employment growth declined throughout the province with women, lower- income, racialized, new immigrant, and younger Ontarians suffering the biggest job losses. Every region of the province felt the impacts of the recession, though some considerably more than others.
“Here in the Quinte Region we have seen a wide disparity in the ways the Covid-19 pandemic has affected individual businesses,” said Suzanne Andrews, CEO at the Quinte West Chamber of Commerce. “In this report we are part of the Kingston Pembroke region where 62% of businesses have seen their operations shrink and 13% say they have grown. The confidence of our business community in the Ontario economy is slightly higher than the Ontario average but confidence in their own operations is lower.”
The report’s co-author, Daniel Safayeni, Acting Vice President of Policy at the OCC, added: “No business, region, sector, or demographic should be left behind in the pursuit of economic recovery and growth. Support programs and pro-growth policies should be targeted towards those experiencing the most pronounced challenges. A focus on reskilling as well as widespread access to broadband infrastructure and capital will be necessary to the revival of small business and entrepreneurship as well as an inclusive and robust economic recovery.”
“Our region has been impacted by both the highs and lows of the pandemic, and we sincerely hope the optimistic outlook of business for their own success at 44% outweighs the concern expressed by many this recovery will take longer,” said Jill Raycroft, CEO of the Belleville Chamber of Commerce. “After a few years of relatively stable GDP growth of over 2%, a projected leap in 2021 of 4.8% to counter the nearly 6% loss last year, will hopefully realign the small business climate towards sustained growth. Still, we know it has not been easy and all have been impacted, we implore our community to continue to support local wherever possible.”
Key highlights from the OER include:
- 44% of Kingston-Pembroke businesses are confident in their own organizational outlook but are only 24% confident in the provincial outlook.
- 62% of Kingston-Pembroke businesses said there operations shrunk and 13% saw growth in 2020.
- 56% of Kingston-Pembroke businesses believe their communities have enough economic opportunities to thrive.
- Jobless rate in 2021 for the Kingston-Pembroke region is projected at 5.9%
- Ontario witnessed a steep decline in real GDP growth (-5.6 percent) in 2020 but is projected to see a moderate rebound of 4.8 percent in 2021, fuelled largely in part by expectations for vaccination rollout and the eventual re-opening of the
- In 2020, only 21 percent of survey respondents expressed confidence in Ontario’s economic outlook. Less than half of Ontario businesses (48 percent) are confident in the outlook of their own organizations over the next
- Small businesses are more pessimistic about Ontario’s outlook than larger ones. Only 20 percent of small businesses expressed confidence in Ontario’s economy, compared to 27 percent of medium and large
- The majority (58 percent) of survey respondents said their organizations shrank between April and September, while only 17 percent
- Employment growth declined throughout the province in 2020, with 47 percent of organizations indicating they let employees go due to COVID-19.
- Sectors most negatively impacted by the crisis included: accommodation and food services; arts, entertainment, and recreation; and retail. Businesses in these sectors were among those most pessimistic about the economic outlook and most likely to have shrunk and let go of staff in
- Businesses’ priorities for governments during economic recovery included enhancing access to capital, reforming business taxes, encouraging Ontarians to buy local, and investing in broadband
“The prolonged nature of the crisis, rising case counts, and uncertainty around vaccine deployment timelines have taken a toll on employers and Ontarians across the province. Yet, Ontario has a proven track-record of resilience and recovery. Our long-term prosperity will depend on all levels of government, business, chambers of commerce and boards of trade working together towards economic recovery,” added Rossi.
The Ontario Economic Report was made possible by support from Hydro One.
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The Bay of Quinte Chambers of Commerce collaborates as the regional voice for the Belleville, Prince Edward County and Quinte West Chambers of Commerce. Representing over 1200 businesses of all sizes and all sectors located in the Bay of Quinte riding, this regional voice advocates for fair government policies that allow businesses to thrive and prosper. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce is Ontario’s Business Advocate.
For more information, please contact:
Suzanne Andrews, CEO
Quinte West Chamber of Commerce
T: (613) 392-7635
Jill Raycroft, CEO
Belleville Chamber of Commerce
T: (613) 962-4597
Lesley Lavender, Executive Director
Prince Edward County Chamber of Commerce