In an attempt to gauge the impact of COVID-19 on Ontario’s environmental sector, a survey distributed by the Ontario Environment Industry Association (ONEIA) has determined that about 30% of those operating in the sector are seeing a drop in revenue.
The ONEIA survey, in the field from April 5 – 14, was intended to take a snapshot of concerns resulting from the pandemic. It generated responses from 43 companies that represent the following sectors: water, brownfields, waste and recycling, air, energy, consulting and technology.
ONEIA estimates that there are more than 3,000 environment-based companies in Ontario that employ some 65,000 highly-trained people and generate annual revenues in excess of $8 billion.
While 13% of the surveyed companies indicated that they are seeing no change or a revenue increase, 28% are seeing a significant revenue decrease and 31% are seeing a slight decrease.
Additionally, half of respondents expect their staff numbers to stay the same or increase in the next six to nine months, while half expect a decrease in staffing within that same timeframe.
During March, employment data released by Statistics Canada shows that Ontario lost more than 400,000 jobs across all sectors, the largest unemployment spike in the province’s history.
“Recent public health indicators show us that we’re beginning to turn a corner in the COVID-19 outbreak, while economic data, feedback from businesses and insights from our communities are outlining how we need to plan for economic recovery,” said Ontario Minister of Finance, Rod Phillips, in a statement. “Turning on an economy after an unprecedented shutdown is not as simple as flipping a switch. We need to plan this out carefully to ensure we do not spark a sudden outbreak, undo the progress we have made and put the safety of the public at risk.”
Digging deeper into the ONEIA survey’s findings reveals that 42% of companies have cancelled important meetings or events during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thirty-four per cent of companies also indicated that clients had cancelled contracts or slowed decision-making on new contracts as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
In terms of whether government support was proving effective, the survey found that 36% of respondents felt that the federal wage subsidy for small- and medium-sized businesses was not helpful. Some 50% of respondents also reported that deferral of income tax, sales tax and WSIB payments would be very or somewhat helpful. Many respondents (80%) also indicated that payroll and general tax breaks and credits would be helpful to their business organization.
ONEIA has created a resources section for environment industry businesses here.