When Montreal has a cough, everyone in Quebec is sick

Quand Montréal tousse, tout le Québec tombe malade

On the economic front, the pandemic demonstrates perhaps that there are not two, but “a single Quebec”, according to a survey of the Institute for research on SMES of the UQTR.

The health crisis could have proven that when Montreal has a cough, everyone in Quebec is sick.

At least, this seems to be the show, a survey of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMES) of the province. Disclosed by the Institute of research on the PME of the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR), the published results display regional differences with regard to the negative impact of the pandemic on the québec economy, the expert said Charles Billion.

Layoffs, declining revenues, reduced level of activity and the decrease in the number of contracts: such are the symptoms of the crisis of the COVID-19, says the president-director general of the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec (FCCQ).

These symptoms are most acute in the region than in Montreal. However, the city has identified so far the largest number of cases and deaths, of the novel coronavirus, and from afar.

The Saguenay region experienced, Montreal a little less

According to the survey of the UQTR, the regions most affected by the crisis on the economic plan, are the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, Lanaudière and Estrie. At the bottom of the list are Montreal and Quebec.

“The main reason for this is that there is a lot of activity in the tertiary sector, services, that lend themselves well to telework,” pointed out Charles Millard in an interview broadcast on LCN Sunday.

Thus, the structure of a regional economy given appears to determine the volume of jobs lost; to be more precise, we are talking about the “type of industry, type of jobs in the sector in question and the role played by some companies in a global supply chain, which often depends on Montreal”, lists Charles Billion.

“Journalists have often said that there are two Quebec. I think that there is only one Quebec because Montreal can hardly close, and operate the rest areas anyway. We see with this survey”, explains the specialist. In the Bas-Saint-Laurent, in the East-of-Québec and the Côte-Nord region, other regions altogether spared by the spread of COVID-19, SMES have also suffered.

“A lot of manufacturing companies, many factories: it is what causes this situation in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean”, where a few cases of the novel coronavirus have been identified. “The manufacturing plants and supply chains of large companies have suffered, such as in the region of Chaudière-Appalaches, where there are a lot, a lot of these companies, even if the number of cases is very small,” adds Charles Billion.

It would therefore not be surprising, in view of the results of this survey, the entrepreneurs saguenéens have “very, very excited to be déconfinés, as much of in a sanitary manner as it is economic”, he warns.

The usefulness of the grants

To reduce the tax burden of the containment at an early stage in the crisis, the government has launched several stimulus programs, including the Provision of canadian emergency (PCU) for individuals and the wage subsidy for businesses.

According to the results of the survey of the Institute for research on SMES, a proportion of 70% of the respondents mentioned having used at least one of the programs. Among the 30% who have not used, about three-quarters did not meet the eligibility criteria.

This is why we think that enlargements must be made at the level of the wage subsidy over the next few months,” suggests Charles Billion.

But at the present time, the financial aid programs appear to have been useful. A proportion of 82% of the people polled no longer consider bankruptcy as an end in itself.

These support programs have given air to the SMES, “must be recognized”, writes the CEO of the Federation of chambers of commerce.

Impact on businesses

Overall results of the survey of the Institute for research on SMES UQTR

  • More than half of SMES in québec (54%) surveyed say they have been forced to decrease their activity by 50%.
  • Nearly half of small and medium-sized enterprises (45%) of the sample claim to have suffered a revenue decrease by half.
  • The third of the SMES surveyed reported layoffs of up to three quarters of their workforce. In addition, one in five has had to lay off all of its employees, according to the survey.

Lower activity than half: 54% of SMES

Income decrease by half: 45% of SMES

Layoff of 75% of employees: +33% of SMES

All the laid-off employees: 20% of SMES


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