The Canadian Survey on Business Conditions (CSBC), a joint effort between Statistics Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, provides the most detailed insight yet into the impact of COVID-19 on Canadian businesses.

“The survey is Canada’s first comprehensive view into how our businesses are adapting, managing or, sadly, failing as the COVID-19 shutdown continues. Insights from more than 13,000 businesses bring into focus the time pressures businesses face to avoid closing their doors permanently. At the same time, the survey also shows how quickly the businesses that can, are adapting to social distancing and preparing for the re-opening of the economy. The survey will provide critical information for governments as they develop and deliver their programs,” said Trevin Stratton, Chief Economist at the Canadian Chamber.

“Today’s official release of the data collected from thousands of Canadian business owners represents the innovative and unprecedented solutions needed to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The unique partnership and collaboration between our two organizations demonstrate what can be achieved when organizations work together to provide the insights needed to navigate the way forward. Through this collaboration we have advanced our collective ability to better understand the issues and challenges faced by Canadian businesses. Today’s results will provide an accurate picture of the true impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Canadian economy and will enable the best decisions at public and private sector tables across the country,” – Anil Arora, Chief Statistician of Canada.

Select findings examining the urgency of business stabilization include:

How much of a cash buffer did businesses have going into COVID-19?
42.2% couldn’t operate longer than 60 days without a source of revenue
51.1% couldn’t operate longer than 90 days without a source of revenue

Change in business revenue in Q1 2020 compared to Q1 2019?
10.5% experienced an increase in revenue
14.3% saw no change in revenue
17.9% experienced a decrease in revenue of up to 20%
53.5% experienced a decrease in revenue of over 20%

Length of time businesses can remain partially or fully open amid social distancing measures?
17.5% say no amount of time amid social distancing
22.2% say they could open for no longer than 3 months amid social distancing
11.9% say they could open between 3 and 6 months amid social distancing
Only 32.1% say they could remain open longer than 6 months amid social distancing

Staffing decisions are taken as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
38.1% have reduced staff hours or shifts
40.5% have laid off staff

“The data clearly shows clearly thousands of businesses are quickly approaching permanent closures. We are now six weeks into the shutdown, which is too late for many, but countless companies can still be saved if we move fast enough to help them. Policy measures like the wage subsidy and the Canada Emergency Business Account will certainly help many businesses, but we’re on the clock to get money into the hands of all businesses that need support,” added Stratton.

Select findings exploring the resiliency of Canadian businesses include:
17.9% of businesses have altered methods of production
35.4% of businesses have altered products or services offered
45.4% of businesses are using new methods to interact with customers
44.5% of businesses are testing working from home
11.6% of businesses are testing e-commerce
10.6% are trying new staff training
62.3% of businesses say they can return to a state of normal operations within one month of social distancing measures being removed

“Many businesses are proving resilient in adapting to the crisis by altering products, services, and production methods. The data shows a large increase in e-commerce, as well as many firms testing working at home practices. Most businesses can return to normal operations within one month of the removal of social distancing measures, which is promising, but the largest firms report longer lag time of 1-3 months. Policymakers should keep these numbers in mind as they consider reopening and recovery measures,” said Stratton.

The CBSC examined issues like the COVID-19’s impact on businesses, how businesses have adapted to the ongoing situation, challenges they continue to face, and those they expect as the recovery begins. The survey compiled 13,037 responses and was in the market between April 4, 2020, and April 24, 2020.