Protesters against provincial government health restrictions on businesses gathered outside Red Deer provincial courthouse earlier in February. A recent Red Deer Chamber of Commerce survey paints a grim picture of the local business climate and the need to re-open the economy fully. Advocate file photo

Protesters against provincial government health restrictions on businesses gathered outside Red Deer provincial courthouse earlier in February. A recent Red Deer Chamber of Commerce survey paints a grim picture of the local business climate and the need to re-open the economy fully. Advocate file photo

Updated: Survey shows businesses nearing ‘breaking point,’ says Red Deer chamber of commerce

More than half of businesses had substantially less revenue and 40% had laid off staff

One in five businesses surveyed by Red Deer’s chamber of commerce are worried they will not survive past the latest pandemic health restrictions.

More than half — 56 per cent — said they had substantially less revenue and four in 10 businesses said they had laid off staff since the government introduced various restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19.

“This is a scary reality as businesses are frustrated, bills are piling up and there is limited data to support these measures,” said Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce CEO Rick More. “We’re approaching a breaking point of even more layoffs, massive unemployment and permanent closures.”

The survey that drew 315 respondents showed that health restrictions and the resulting business closures have hit central Alberta businesses hard. Only 17 per cent of respondents fully supported the provincial government’s current approach.

More said many of those who responded to the survey were in the service businesses, such as hotels and restaurants, and have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic.

“They are running out of fumes.”

More said the chamber supports the government’s phased approach to lifting restrictions and that businesses should continue to take the necessary precautions. But the business group would like to see the economy re-opened as quickly as possible.

Many businesses feel, and More agrees, that health restrictions often did not reflect the actual risks of the virus being transmitted in their settings.

“I don’t think we’ve used the data correctly in the whole 11 months,” he said, referring to the low transmission rate in eateries and other businesses visited by the public.

The survey found less than four per cent of respondents would not be comfortable going into a local business if it re-opened.

“Part of our advocacy efforts has been to ensure government truly understands the impact this crisis and the measures designed to contain it are having on small business and those they employ,” said More.

“This data validates our message that all businesses are essential and the urgency of permanently re-opening our economy. Despite the demonstrated success businesses have had in safely operating and limiting transmission risk they remained partially or fully shuttered due to government decree and without adequate supports.”

Thirty per cent of survey respondents said government supports have not been adequate.

Of the programs available, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy appears to be the most effective, with 76 per cent of businesses saying they tapped into the program. Fifty-six per cent took advantage of the Canada Emergency Business Account and 30 per cent the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy.

More said the survey shows that the pandemic’s impact will be felt for a long time and it could be months or years in some cases before businesses see pre-COVID levels of activity.

Over the next 12 months, 17 per cent of respondents expected their business to contract and 55 per cent predicted it to stay about the same. Only 28 per cent expected their businesses to grow.



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Central Alberta Freestyle Ski Club is hoping to win $50,000 through the Mackenzie Investments Top Peak contest. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta ski club trying to win $50K in online contest

A central Alberta ski club has entered a contest where it can… Continue reading

Ben King scores for the Red Deer Rebels during the third period of a Western Hockey League game against the Calgary Hitmen at the Westerner Park Centrium Saturday. (Photo by Rob Wallator/Red Deer Rebels)
Rebels complete comeback to pick up first win of season

Rebels 3 Hitmen 2 (OT) The Red Deer Rebels were able to… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Red Deer dips below 300 active COVID-19 cases

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer continued to drop… Continue reading

Lyn Radford, 2019 Canada Winter Games board chair, was named 2020 Sport Event Volunteer of the Year at the Prestige Awards. (File photo by Advocate staff)
WATCH: Lyn Radford wins award for volunteer efforts

The board chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer… Continue reading

Mount Pearl Senior High in Mount Pearl, N.L., remains closed on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. The provincial health authority says there were 185 cases at 22 schools, including 145 infections among staff and students of one high school in Mount Pearl that was an early epicentre of the outbreak. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly
In Newfoundland and Labrador, three ingredients made for explosive COVID-19 outbreak

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — With her classes, three part-time jobs and a… Continue reading

A passenger places a tag on luggage at the departure terminal at Toronto Pearson Airport, in Mississauga, Ont., Friday, May 24, 2019. The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many recent immigrants to leave Canada and return to their countries of origin, where they have more social and familial connections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
COVID-19 pandemic prompts recent newcomers to leave Canada for their home countries

OTTAWA — The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic… Continue reading

Rail cars wait for pickup in Winnipeg, Sunday, March 23, 2014. The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian oil and gas on trains destined for the United States — a country experts fear is ill-equipped for the potential consequences. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
As debate rages over cross-border pipelines, U.S. analysts brace for more oil by rail

WASHINGTON — The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian… Continue reading

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

VICTORIA — Legal experts and a mother whose ex-partner was convicted of… Continue reading

Radio and television personality Dick Smyth is shown in an undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
Dick Smyth, Canadian maestro of news radio commentary, dies at 86

TORONTO — Radio and television personality Dick Smyth, whose booming commentary filled… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa on May 14, 2013. A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the judicial warrant process at Canada's spy agency — an issue that made headlines last summer — stretch back at least nine years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Spy warrant shortcomings stretch back almost a decade, newly released audit shows

OTTAWA — A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the estimated $29 million… Continue reading

Most Read