Canada’s Economy Struggling to Catch Its Breath: Small Business Dealing with Financial Long COVID


Canadian Chamber’s Senior Director of Parliamentary Affairs and SME Policy Alla Drigola Birk recently explored the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on small businesses and what can be done to help.

Small businesses are Canada’s job creation engine, accounting for more than 80% of new jobs in this country. Collectively, they are responsible for roughly half of our GDP growth. When they are healthy and strong, the country is growing, and when they catch cold, Canada is laid up.

What’s less understood is what happens when small businesses catch something more serious. While there has been much conversation about the personal and economic effects of “long COVID” on the health of Canadians, it is time to discuss the massive impact financial long COVID has had on Canadian businesses. It’s an ailment that could have serious long-term implications for Canada’s economic recovery.

We all likely know a small business owner within our social circles. Think about how hard it is to run a successful small business on a good day. Now think about that small business owner taking on an extra $170,000 in debt to stay afloat during the pandemic and – if they made it through five waves of COVID restrictions – continuing to operate at a reduced capacity amid labour shortages, supply chain disruptions and consumer anxiety.

These are the symptoms of financial long COVID that businesses are facing, and just like its medical counterpart, there is no short-term answer or looming relief. According to a recent Canadian Survey on Business Conditions, many small businesses believe these issues will continue for the foreseeable future.