The UCPR Economic Development and Tourism Department, in conjunction with the economic development departments in all eight UCPR municipalities asked business owners and management throughout the counties for input on how the virus is affecting their business. Champlain and Russell townships were excluded because those municipalities conducted their own surveys.
The survey, focused on retail and construction with businesses of 19 employees or less, was randomly sent to various businesses garnering 479 responses with a confidence level of 95% and a 4% margin of error.
Here are the facts:
62% described their situation as “difficult,” 7% “critical” and 19% said COVID-19 has not impacted their business at all while 13% indicated that their business is growing or adapting amid the situation. Retail, construction, tourism, and arts-related business owners described the situation as critical or difficult while the agricultural, food, administrative, and not-for-profit sectors described their situation as manageable, adaptive, or conducive to growth.
25% are offering new services such as home delivery, and 72% of those offering new services plan to continue offering them after the pandemic is over.
15% businesses have had to hire new employees, however 35% of businesses that responded have felt negative effects and have had to layoff employees. One of the biggest challenges businesses are dealing with are layoffs, assisting their employees with EI, dealing with new work methods, and staff asking about a return date to work.
43% of businesses that not made use of any of the federal and Ontario government support programs for businesses and workers: 4% were unaware that the programs were available, 15 per cent said they were not necessary, and 24 per cent were not eligible. 47% of those in business are seeking federal or provincial support and 21 are seeking municipal support.
The survey results show that businesses would like to see are wage subsidies, financial assistance with the rental and installation of safety equipment, financial support for seasonal and tourism businesses, training sessions so employees know how to apply and follow health regulations, and ongoing training to ease the transition to online sales.
Tax relief for non-operating businesses, removal of interest on late fee payments, and allowing building inspection to resume, and for building permits to again be issued were the types of assistance the respondents wanted to see from the municipal level.
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