Businesses optimistic despite hard time during pandemic

Canadian economy

Despite hard days during the global pandemic, the businesses in Calgary are optimistic of a positive economic recovery, as Canadian economy continues to grow.  

The Calgary Chamber of Commerce has commissioned Trend Research and Janet Brown Opinion Research to conduct a survey of 250 businesses in Calgary and area between the end of February and March.

According to the survey, 71 per cent of Calgary businesses suffered a decline in revenues throughout the pandemic, with the average business recording a 48.9 per cent less revenue.

Businesses in the service sector made up 80 per cent of the businesses that reported revenue decline.

Ventures with between 10 and 49 employees, SMEs, were among 78 per cent of businesses to lose income.

Against this backdrop, businesses were compelled to seek relief through government COVID-19 support Programmes. 

The poll showed 70 per cent of the businesses in the city had sought help from, at least, one relief Programmes and the most popular option was the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, with uptake among 54 per cent of businesses.

The survey not only fund out the extent of the impact of the pandemic on businesses, but also fund out a shift in mood.

“There are some actual reasonable grounds for thinking we’re going to get beyond COVID because of the vaccination rollout,” chamber interim CEO Murray Sigler said. “So that came loud and clear.”

Optimism of a positive recovery  

Sixty-two per cent of respondents stated that they are optimistic about Alberta’s economic prospects, which is an increase by seven per cent from a similar poll conducted in September 2020.

The optimism is visible and felt at Foreman’s Menswear in Victoria Park, which recently returned to regular store hours after operating by appointment only.

36 per cent of businesses said they’re planning to hire in the next six months, while 17 per cent are planning to retrench their staff.

Complex recovery  

It is obvious that the recovery is not as simple as the widespread optimism. The recovery will be complex. 

According to the chamber, the focus is to lowering non-residential property taxes to attract young talent to Calgary and improve relationships with the province. At the provincial level, the biggest issues for the chamber were easing COVID-19 restrictions, diversification and energy-related issues.   

Since the Calgarians are to vote in a municipal election and may be in a federal election sometime this year, a recovery will entail collaboration and bipartisanship.

Alberta’s ambitious recovery plan 

Given the Alberta’s ambitious recovery plan, the optimism for a positive recovery seems to be well-grounded.  According to the plan, Alberta will create tens of thousands of jobs, making the economy more productive.  Among other things, the plan envisaged a massive infrastructure development programme with $10 billion in projects. 

These projects will create immediate employments in  building roads, bridges, overpasses, water projects, pipelines, gas lines, schools, hospitals, long term care homes for seniors, drug treatment centres and tourism infrastructure. 

The process will also create a host of indirect jobs in the form of sub – contractors, suppliers, small businesses, hotels, and restaurants.  

This infrastructure plan comes with a 40 per cent increase in budgetary allocations over what had initially been allocated in the province’s 2020 – 2021 Capital Plan.

Some of the measures in the plan include immediately accelerate the Job Creation Tax Cut that would make Alberta by far the most attractive business environment for investment in Canada with a reduction of the general business tax rate from 10 per cent to 8 per cent on July 1.  Accordingly, this will accelerate the creation of an estimated 55,000 new full – time private sector jobs, and stimulate $13 billion in economic growth.

Launch of the Innovation Employment Grant, an attractive incentive to create high – paying jobs, will not only make Alberta the most attractive investment destination in Canada, but also facilitate substantial investments, particularly, in the critical technology and innovation sector.

In order to create a vibrant start-up culture, an additional $175 million have been invested in the Alberta Enterprise Corporation to make available as venture capital for start – up companies at early stage. 

The survey’s overwhelming positive responses are a testimony to the growing market confidence of a positive recovery and it is clear that the Alberta and Calgary may rebound with vigor as new business will emerge, creating tens of thousands of higher-earning employments along with a host of business and investment opportunities. 

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