Just over a third of Canadian workers, especially younger ones, fear losing their jobs during the next month because of COVID-19 and just under a third say the current pandemic will have a “moderate or major impact” on their ability to pay bills.
Those figures emerge from a Statistics Canada survey answered by more than 4,600 people from all provinces between March 29 to April 3.
As the accompanying report says, the economic shutdown associated with COVID-19 has had a “sudden and dramatic impact” on the Canadian labour market as employment declined by more than one million from February to March. More than two million Canadians remained employed but worked less than half their usual hours, including zero hours, during the week of March 15 to 21.
Not surprisingly, concerns among Canadian workers about job security is high as more than one third (34.5 per cent) of Canadian workers expressed worry they might lose their job or main source of self-employment income in the next four weeks.
“Youth aged 15 to 24 (41.8 per cent) were more likely than those in the core working ages of 25 to 54 (33.8 per cent) or those aged 55 and older (33.2 per cent) to feel insecure about their continued employment,” it reads. Workers aged 25 to 54 recorded the greatest drop in employment from February to March.
According to Statistics Canada, nearly three in 10 (29 per cent) Canadians say the COVID-19 situation is having a moderate or major impact on their ability to meet financial obligations or essential needs such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities and groceries. About 24 per cent said it was too soon to tell, while just under half (47.2 per cent) reported minor or no impact. During the time of the survey, the federal government had waived the one week waiting period for Employment Insurance and the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit was not yet available though Ottawa had announced it.
The data once again shows an age gap with older Canadians, including those already retired, less concerned.
“Canadians aged 55 and older were least likely to report a moderate or major impact on their ability to meet financial obligations or essential needs (19.3 per cent), compared with youth (31 per cent) and core-aged people (35.9 per cent),” it reads. “This was mostly driven by the fact that older people are less likely to be employed. Among the employed, there was little difference in this proportion across age groups.”
The survey also finds people who report greater uncertainty about being able to pay bills also report poorer mental health.
The share of Canadians reporting fair or poor mental health (as opposed to good, very good, or excellent) was twice as high among Canadians for whom COVID-19 is having a moderate or major impact on their ability to meet financial obligations or essential needs (25.2 per cent) than among those for whom there is little to no financial impact (12.8 per cent).
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