Businesses in the Estrie, Lanaudière and Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean regions were the hardest hit by the impacts of confinement and other measures to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study whose results were released Sunday by the Federation des chambres de commerce du Québec (FCCQ).

The survey polled 1,238 companies across Quebec between May 5 and May 19, in concert with the Institut de recherche sur les PMEs at the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières (UQTR).

Its margin of error was not specified.

The survey also suggests that the metropolitan areas of Montreal and Laval, where the highest rate of residents infected with the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in the province, seem to be less affected by the economic effects of COVID-19.

“This survey confirms once again the enormous economic impact of COVID-19 on the Quebec economy, but it also reveals great disparities by region,” said FCCQ president and CEO Charles Milliard.

According to respondents to this survey, 54 per cent of businesses have experienced a drop in their production or service activities by more than half; 45 per cent of Quebec companies suffered a drop in revenues of more than 50 per cent and 57 per cent of the companies surveyed experienced a sharp decrease in the number of contracts and orders.

One in five companies, or 19.4 per cent, even laid off all of its employees; 33 per cent of respondents have laid off more than 75 per cent of their employees.

“The new reality facing businesses is forcing them to adapt,” said Milliard, who is calling for more financial support for Quebec small and medium-sized businesses.

“Measures concerning sanitary rules and physical distance in the company occupy an important place. We have also underlined the need to provide funds to support companies in these transformations,” he stressed.

The survey also shows that 70 per cent of responding businesses have benefited from one or other of the federal or provincial financial assistance measures implemented since the start of the crisis.

“Among the companies that have not benefited from these government measures, the main reason is the fact of not qualifying for the various support programs. The importance of direct aid is essential to limit indebtedness and ensure sustainable recovery,” said the CEO of the FCCQ.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2020.