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City of Vancouver bungles report into COVID-19-related economic losses

Last Updated May 15, 2020 at 11:27 am PST

View of Vancouver from the corner of Ash and Broadway. (Tarnjit Parmar, NEWS 1130 Photo)
Summary

The City of Vancouver is issuing a correction, saying earlier reports the economy suffered a $27B loss was incorrect

City says drop in business revenue was 27 per cent, not $27 billion

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The city is correcting a major error when it comes to what it was reporting as the financial toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on Vancouver.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart reported on Thursday that more than 13,000 business closures and about 90,000 people losing their jobs last month resulted in a $27 billion loss to the economy — a figure he said came from the Vancouver Economic Commission.

However, city officials are now making a significant correction to the “small error,” saying information cited on slides presented meant to say revenues dropped 27 per cent — not $27 billion.

On Thursday, Stewart outlined the latest plan on how the city will deal with the impacts of COVID-19 and what needs to be done to help.

The mayor said women, seniors, and youth have suffered the most during the pandemic, which businesses will need to take into consideration during the reopening process.


With this impact in mind, he said it will be necessary to help women return to the workforce since they make up most of the people who lost their jobs recently.

Stewart also explained businesses need to focus on building trust with customers, including seniors and can do so with actions liked a dedicated shopping hour.

As for businesses, he noted sectors hit hardest during the pandemic are health-related, along with hotels, restaurants, and retail.

Even as the city starts to open up, research by the Vancouver Economic Commission shows many people won’t be comfortable spending time around strangers until a vaccine is available.

“Whatever industry you’re in, your client base may be only 40 to 70 per cent what it was without a vaccine, so it’s not only the reduction of space that would come through physical distancing, it’s also the reduction in the willingness of people to come into these establishments,” Stewart said.


The COVID-19 Impacts Report suggests fewer than eight out of 10 homeowners will be able to pay their property taxes.


Stewart also noted 78 per cent of homeowners report they’ll be able to pay their property taxes, which is more than last month.

However, the city could still see a loss of $300 million this year.

Last month, the city laid off more than 1,500 staff members.

“Right now, you know, we’re holding the line, but if these impacts continue, then it could result in more service cuts and layoffs,” the mayor said.