Swimwear company sees production halt amid COVID-19 just ahead of summer season
Just over one month since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, Canadian small- and medium-sized businesses continue to face a crisis that is having an impact beyond their bottom lines.
Employers are being forced to adapt to the new economic realities from the shutdown, with the country losing a record 1.01 million jobs in March and economists expecting worse employment numbers in April.
Here are some of the tough decisions business owners have told BNN Bloomberg they’ve had to make since the pandemic began – and how COVID-19 has affected their companies.
“We’ve had to lay off people very rapidly. We have 18 properties across the country and we suspended the operations of five of them, so it has been extremely difficult and still is. As an entrepreneur, the job that I really like is creating jobs. So when you have to lay off people – even if it’s temporary – it’s terrible.”
Christiane Germain, co-president and co-founder, Canadian hotel chain Germain Hotels
“Everything that we do is subcontracted here in Montreal. In-house, it’s a family-owned business, so it’s my father, my mother and my sister. As of right now, we’ve taken a drastic pay cut. We’ve laid off my mother and we’re just taking it as it goes.”
Tiffany Youssef, founder, swimwear company Tea You
“It’s been nothing short of devastating. We’ve been very blessed to be able to grow this business substantially over the last decade… but effectively our sales are down 99 per cent. We’ve laid off 96, 97 per cent of all of our workforce, which we all hope to bring back and we’re trying to shed a light on what we need to ensure that happens.”
Andrew Oliver, president and CEO, Oliver & Bonacini, a restaurant group with over 1,000 employees
“We have companies that are in the beginning of innovation that are not funded yet, but could be the next Shopify. And there’s really nothing for them to stay alive.”
Suzanne Grant, CEO, Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance, an industry group which represent small- and medium-sized tech businesses
“We’ve had basically all of our clients from April to June reschedule or cancel their weddings … That’s a lot of our income being depleted and something we don’t have access to. We’re just figuring out the rest of the remaining wedding season, but if the lockdown does last longer, it’s pretty much a total loss of income for the entire wedding season.”
Derek Hui, co-founder, The Mariner Agency, a Toronto-based wedding photography agency
“We closed just before it was mandated … Leaving us with no option but try to find other means of income to try and stay afloat. That means providing online training platforms for our community and our clients to continue training, but that doesn’t at all come close in comparison to the revenue we’d be generating if our doors were still open.”
Jennifer Lau, co-founder, boutique Toronto gym Fit Squad