The December lockdown was “the last straw”. Post numbers show impact of new COVID-19 restrictions – National


Nick Cassinath says he hasn’t paid himself since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The owner of Northern Artists, a Toronto photo lab in business since 1979, says his shop has been hanging by a thread since COVID-19 first hit Canada in March.

“CERB saved us completely,” says Cassinath, who adds that he and several of his employees received the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit of $ 2,000 per month.

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Those government paychecks – along with Canada’s Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance, the first incarnation of Ottawa’s rent relief program – kept the 40-year-old lab afloat, Cassinath says.

But when Ontario tightened COVID-19 restrictions again as the number of cases rose in December, it was “the last straw,” Cassinath says.

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« Christmas is by far the busiest time of the year. I will be doing more in the first three weeks of December alone than I will in the next three months, ”he says.

What will be the impact of the coronavirus curfew in Quebec?

What will be the impact of the coronavirus curfew in Quebec?

While Cassinath believed these stricter measures were necessary, the timing was horrible for any seasonal business that relies on the holidays, he says.

« And now we’re going to get into the three, four, five dead months of the year with the rent and other responsibilities ahead, ”he says.

Canadian employment figures in December show the first signs of the impact the second round of government lockdowns likely had on companies like Cassinath’s and the workers they employ.

For the first time since April, Canada’s gradual employment recovery has reversed, with the economy losing $ 63,000 net in the last month of 2020, Statistics Canada said on Friday.

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Canadian self-employed workers have been particularly affected, the agency said. While the number of employees in the public and private sectors held up, self-employment fell by 62,000 jobs last month, the data showed.

The decline was even more marked for part-time employment, which shed 99,000 jobs during the month, with workers aged 15 to 24 and those aged 55 and over the most affected by the losses jobs.

At Northern Artists, Cassinath says he was able to gradually increase the working hours of his staff before the second lockdown. But no one has been to the store since Dec. 24, and the lab won’t reopen until at least Jan. 14, he says.

According to the latest StatCan count in December, 1.1 million Canadian workers had lost their jobs or worked reduced hours, up from 5.5 million in April. But the state of the Canadian labor market is likely to get worse before it gets better.

While December’s job losses likely reflect the effect of more provinces adopting tougher public health measures, they likely don’t fully capture the impact of the second round of lockdowns. That’s because StatCan conducted its employment survey in the second week of December, ahead of even tighter restrictions that went into effect in many jurisdictions during and after the vacation period.

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Click to play video 'Experts say under new COVID-19 strategy this could be the last lockdown'

Experts say under new COVID-19 strategy this could be the last lockdown

Experts say under new COVID-19 strategy this could be the last lockdown

‘I had to adapt and stretch out’

Not all Canadian self-employed workers saw their businesses dry up during the second wave of lockdowns. In Vancouver, Marika Mousseau, a 29-year-old publicist, said in August that she realized she would need to quickly diversify her clientele away from the travel and hospitality industry.

Mousseau, who runs his own public relations firm, Mousseau PR, says his biggest clients were previously travel agencies, hotels and other businesses in the tourism industry. In April, she said her business was down by at least 50% and she was forced to take CERB for a few months.

By early summer, Mousseau says she was back, thanks in large part to local tourism activity in the British Columbia area. But as autumn approached with no sign of an end to the health emergency, she began to seek clients in pandemic-proof industries.

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«JEIt’s really in the food industry that I’ve found a lot of success, ”she says.

So far, business has held up, Mousseau says, which she attributes at least in part to the fact that the B.C. government has not adopted COVID-19 as strict as those adopted in Ontario and the United States. Quebec.

Still, Mousseau doubts she could have changed the way she did it had the pandemic happened early in her career.

“If I think to myself, I don’t think I could have done what I did at 23 or 24 without having the contacts and not having the experience.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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