COVID-19: Montreal economy feels the crunch
Published Friday, March 13, 2020 10:35PM EDT
MONTREAL -- The flood of event cancellations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has ground Montreal's tourism industry to a halt.
"Hotels, restaurants, traiteurs: all of these aspects of the economy are impacted right now," said Michel Leblanc, president and CEO of the chamber of commerce of Montreal.
Organizers have cancelled or postponed celebrations and parades, including the St. Patrick's Parade. Even the Palais des Congres has cancelled all events for the next 30 days.
The virus could cause Quebec's economy could slip, Leblanc says, leading to a potential loss of $2.8 billion.
A steep drop in the number of people travelling internationally has caused airlines to consider layoffs. Prime-Minister Justin Trudeau earlier Friday discouraged international travel and said Canada would place limitations on how people could fly into the country.
The union of Westjet flight attendants said travellers are cancelling flights in massive numbers, which could lead to the layoff of half its staff. An Air Canada spokesperson told CTV Montreal that it couldn't guarantee there would be no layoffs, but said it would take other measures before doing so.
Charities are among the organizations affected. The Canadian Cancer Society has cancelled its annual daffodil ball -- their biggest single fundraising event, raising about $2.3 million, according to event producer Alison Silcoff.
But federal officials are injecting money. Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced on Friday a $10 billion credit plan to support businesses and stimulate the economy.