Roughly 1,200 Orangeville jobs lost during COVID-19 pandemic

July 8, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

Orangeville’s 2019/20 economic development report was brought before Council last Monday (June 28) during their regular meeting, which showed Orangeville lost about 1,200 jobs due to COVID-19.

The report shows economic development data from the past two calendar years and manager of economic development, Ruth Phillips, who prepared the report, shared some of its highlights with Town Council.

“Clearly our community like every other community in Canada has been impacted by this pandemic. What we’ve seen approximately between 2019 and 2020, we’ve lost approximately 1,200 jobs and this decrease in employment numbers represents about a 10% loss,” said Phillips.

“We saw business losses and the hardest hit were sole proprietors and businesses with fewer than 10 employees.”

She noted this is in keeping with Dufferin County’s rate of unemployment as well as the province’s when comparing 2019 (pre-pandemic) to 2020.

With the exception of transportation and warehousing, job losses were recorded across all economic sectors, said Phillips.

“Not surprisingly, the most significant declines occurred within accommodation and food services. The arts and entertainment sector and in the other services category, which is a broad kind of catch all category that includes personal care services, dry cleaning, funeral services, automotive repair and things like that,” she explained.

With these job losses, the unemployment rate for Orangeville’s economic region, which spans from Barrie to Kitchener, climbed from 4.7 per cent in 2019 to 7.5 per cent in December of 2020. However, Phillips noted that Barrie in particular suffered greatly during the pandemic and had a large number of business closures, so this data isn’t necessarily reflective of the Orangeville/Dufferin region.

Phillips said most business in Orangeville were resilient and business losses were balanced by growth. Locally, the Town saw less than a one per cent decrease in total businesses operating within the community.

“Where we lost some in retail, accommodation and food, and in the professional, scientific and technical sectors, we gained in businesses, in the construction industry, and then in the other services category along with agriculture, real estate and educational services,” said Phillips.

Looking to the future, as the pandemic comes to an end, data from Statistics Canada and the Western Ontario Wardens Caucus indicates that over the past 10 years, total employment increased by six per cent in Dufferin County.

In addition, within the next eight years, Dufferin is expected to grow by another 7 per cent.

Orangeville is currently home to 62 per cent of all jobs in Dufferin, so the Town should benefit the most from job growth over the next decade.

“Sectors driving growth for the future are anticipated to be in the healthcare, construction, professional services, education and manufacturing sectors,” noted Phillips.

She said the Town’s economic development office has seen a 30 per cent increase in demand for its services over the last year and it continues to capitalize on program funding to support local businesses where possible.

In addition to two digitalization programs operated over the last year, the office has collectively provided over $100,000 to 43 small businesses in Orangeville.

“We’re now in the process of applying for another round of [funding for] a digitalization program, and if it’s approved, we’ll be able to provide grants and supports to all commercial businesses in the community,” Phillips remarked.

“We also capitalized on a grant available through Central Counties Tourism recently. It received funding to help offset the costs associated with introducing an app that will use augmented reality to promote visitation to the town’s arts and culture features.”

The app is called Dreamscape and was launched on June 28.

Lastly, Phillips concluded her summary of Orangeville’s 2019/20 economic development report by saying there’s been a significant investment of time and resources into the Town’s new tourism strategy.

A new tourism brand is underway and blogging has been introduced to the economic development section of the Town’s website as well as general improvements.

New programs to encourage visitation are also underway.

“As tourism opens up, we’ll be ready to launch these initiatives, first in a small bite size and then in a scalable fashion,” said Phillips.

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.