COVID-19’s Impact on Grand Erie
COVID-19’s impact has been widespread
COVID-19 has had a major impact on Brantford, Brant, Haldimand, Norfolk, Six Nations and New Credit.
Grand Erie’s workers and businesses have had many ups and downs since March 2020, with parts of the economy shut down, then reopened, shut down and reopened again. Thousands of area residents have been laid off and hundreds of businesses have closed, with some of those changes permanent. Meanwhile, many workers and businesses have had to change the way they work.
The Workforce Planning Board has actively monitored COVID-19’s impact on workers, businesses, the local economy and job market.
On this page are a number of reports based on community consultations, research and surveys we’ve conducted.
Planning for the Post-Pandemic workforce world
Labour market changes sparked by the pandemic means our communities in Grand Erie and Southwestern Ontario have had to step up planning for the future.
For the past year, the Workforce Planning Board has been looking ahead, working with the Grand Erie COVID-19 Recovery Task Force on a Scenario Planning Project. We’ve consulted and collaborated with more than 80 individuals and organizations from Brantford, Six Nations, New Credit, and the counties of Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk.
The extensive scenario planning exercise has led to the publication of Grand Erie’s Post Pandemic Economics Scenarios report
The report explores 4 potential scenarios of what the local workforce, labour market and economy could look like post pandemic, and lists a number of strategies and recommendations of how to move forward.
The report makes it clear that extensive collaboration, proactive strategies and innovation will be needed to ensure the best possible outcome.
More information is available in 3 formats:
- The full Scenario Planning report (shown at right)
- A 2-page Infographic (shown at right)
- An easy-to-use interactive Dashboard showcasing labour market trends
The Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie is one of 9 workforce boards in Southwestern Ontario that carried out COVID-19 scenario planning over the last year.
Workforce Windsor Essex has summarized the findings for Workforce Planning West in a report titled Workforce Planning West Scenario Planning Project.
Grand Erie Business Recovery Survey
The Grand Erie COVID-19 Recovery Task Force surveyed businesses in Six Nations, New Credit, Brantford, and Brant, Haldimand, and Norfolk counties in July.
195 businesses across various sectors within the region participated.
Survey questions assessed the impact of the pandemic on local employers, and the demand for strategies and solutions to address their needs.
Survey results show shifts in the business landscape. Key findings include:
- Significant drop in demand for goods and services among one-third of businesses
- Widespread concerns about access to PPE in the short and medium term
- High levels of interest in skills training to support recent shifts in skills in-demand
- Challenges with hiring in the current atmosphere
The survey findings provide residents, businesses and government leaders with the local knowledge they need to make informed plans for recovery.
Read about the survey’s findings by clicking on the report.
Survey highlights are shown in the infographic, shown at right.
COVID-19 Worker Impact Survey
The Workforce Planning Board carried out a COVID-19 Worker Impact Survey in April 2020.
More than 40% of Grand Erie residents lost work due to the COVID-19 crisis, the survey found. Of the 450 residents surveyed, 37% were temporarily not working and another 5% had permanently lost work. Others were working from home.
About 19% of people said they were working more. These were people working in health care, transportation and warehousing.
People working in accommodation and food services, retail and wholesale trade, and education were most affected at the time. Youth (ages of 18 – 24) working part time in the retail and food businesses were particularly hard hit.
One in three respondents said they were worried about having enough food, and paying their rent, mortgage and paying monthly bills.
The local findings were consistent with surveys from six other workforce planning boards in Southwestern Ontario. Workforce Planning West surveyed 2,570 people in all.
Workforce Heroes of Grand Erie Helping our Communities
Workers and Business show their resiliency
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on people’s lives, livelihood, work and job market in Brantford, Brant, Haldimand, Norfolk, Six Nations and New Credit over the last year.
There were many disruptions, with layoffs and business closures, some temporary, some permanent.
But Grand Erie workers and businesses have shown their resiliency, adapting to new ways of working, such as working from home, and new ways of doing business, such as setting up or expanding online stores or food delivery.
These adaptions have lived up to the the Workforce Planning Board’s vision of “A skilled, resilient workforce contributing to dynamic communities and their economies.”
The Workforce Planning Board celebrates 5 Grand Erie businesses – just a few of the many examples – and their workforces that have shown resiliency and community spirit in the face of the pandemic.
Resilient, creative, generous: all words that describe how Brantford’s Apotex Pharmachem and its employees stepped up in time of need last year.
The company’s Spalding Drive plant produced and donated thousands of bottles of medical-grade hand sanitizer to the Brant Community Healthcare System and hospitals, clinics and seniors residences in Ontario and Quebec. Apotex also donated thousands of medical masks.
Vice-President and General Manager Jason Fischer knew the firm, Canada’s leading producer of generic drugs, could help ensure health-care facilities had the supplies and Personal Protective Equipment they needed.
“There was an immense sense of pride and accomplishment across the organization to be able to react quickly to the need and deliver PPE that would have an immediate impact in our community and for the front-line health-care workers,” Fischer said.
Six Nations Economic Development Corp.
The Six Nations of the Grand River Economic Development Corporation drew on its philosophy of community caring to help when the pandemic began in 2020.
“As a community owned development corporation, it is our responsibility to assist where we can, especially during times of uncertainty,” said President/CEO Matt Jamieson.
The corporation helped the Six Nations community in multiple ways:
- Set up an Emergency Relief Fund, providing funds for non-profits to purchase PPE
- Sourced PPE, including 10,000 N95 masks for Six Nations Emergency Service use
- Offered rent cuts to tenants in its Oneida Business Park
- The Six Nations Bingo Hall made donations to the local food bank
- And staff assisted the elected band council with crisis management, including running the local COVID-19 hotline.
Battlefield International’s employees rose to the challenge when there were warnings last year about a potential shortage of venilators.
The Haldimand County aerospace company’s staff volunteered their time to manufacture a Manual Ventilator Automation Control (MVAC) device in 8 weeks.
The MVAC would allow patients recovering from COVID-19 to get assistance to breathe properly while still having some “manual” control of the machine. The machine switches to automatic mode if a patient doesn’t take a breath within a set amount of time.
Battlefield manufactured 100 of the MVACs, which were ready to be deployed for emergency use in health care facilities in Haldimand-Norfolk and Hamilton. The ventilators weren’t needed in 2020 and Fenton hopes they won’t be in future.
Brooks Signs found a way to keep workers working in the spring of 2020 when the pandemic hit.
The Brant County company was allowed at the time to continue to manufacture signs. But the company wasn’t allowed to send workers out to install the signs since that work was considered non-essential “construction.”
President Jason Schwandt said: “Rather than close our shop and lay off our employees, our team collaborated and came up with the idea to pivot our focus, leverage our fabrication skillset, and address the threat to our community.”
Brooks Signs purchased four plastic bending machines, trained their employees on them, and started making the plexiglass shields for a variety of businesses.
Hometown Brew of Norfolk County turned suds into sanitizer to help residents safeguard against COVID-19.
Hometown’s team of Dusty Zamecnik, Tommy Devos and brewmaster Matt Devos decided to help meet the community’s need for hand sanitizer.
Matt Devos put in dozens of hours of trial-and-error work to distill the company’s Blue County beer into sanitizer grade alcohol.
Sanitizer were donated to Norfolk Association of Community Living, and Hometown customers could donate small bottles to Haldimand-Norfolk Community Support Services, which the business then matched.