Loading articles...

Surrey reports 37,408 jobs lost since COVID-19 pandemic struck

Last Updated Sep 5, 2020 at 10:47 pm PDT

The employment insurance section of the Government of Canada website is shown on a laptop in Toronto on April 4, 2020. Statistics Canada will release its July labour force survey Friday. June's unemployment fell to 12.3 per cent after hitting a record high 13.7 per cent in May as the economy added 953,000 jobs. July's numbers will give a broader picture of how the start of the economic recovery from COVID-19 pandemic is playing out. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jesse Johnston

A new report measures the economic fallout of COVID-19 in Surrey

26,495 people lost their jobs in the sales and service sector alone

SURREY (NEWS 1130) — More than 37,000 jobs have been lost in Surrey since the start of the pandemic, according to a new report tracking how COVID-19 has impacted employment in that city.

The number represents an overall loss of 12.7 per cent of jobs in the city, according to the Surrey Board of Trade which issued its first Labour Market Intelligence and Impact Report Friday. 

“We just want to be able to have an opportunity to show what — on the ground — Surrey businesses and our Surrey economy is facing,” explains CEO Anita Huberman.

“Surrey in itself, in the end, is very economically healthy. We have a very diverse industry base and we have been able to keep many of our businesses open. However, the report indicates that our smaller businesses, our restaurant industry, our hotels, our golf courses, et cetera were compromised during the pandemic.”

The sector hardest-hit was sales and services — which saw 26,495 people lose their jobs between February and July of 2020.

“Job losses are concentrated on the service sector, many of which are not expected to return,” the report reads. “Youth, immigrants, people of colour and women have been more adversely affected by these job losses, raising significant concerns for Surrey’s diverse population.”

While 60 per cent of small businesses in the city have reopened, that percentage drops to 36 per cent in the hospitality industry.

Nearly 9,000 jobs were lost among trades, transport and equipment operators.

Another sector that lost thousands of jobs was the educational and non-profit sector.

“When you take a look at not-for-profits, when you take a look at arts and culture, when you take a look at educational institutions, there have been some significant decisions that employers have needed to make as a result of the pandemic. When you can’t have services in-house, decisions have had to be made in terms of lost jobs,” she says.

“We’re hoping that into the future those jobs can be regained, there can be some innovation in the future related to those industries.”


Huberman says the survey also found that although almost 70 per cent of businesses in Surrey are receiving support from the federal government, only 12 per cent were confident this aid will see them through the pandemic.

She points out that smaller businesses typically have less than $20,000 in savings, so couldn’t rely on savings while waiting for government help.

“That’s not enough to pay the bills, pay the rent,” she says.

Issues with accessing the wage subsidy and securing rent-relief were the two top concerns for employers.

Huberman says the plan is to release a similar report each month to coincide with the release of labour statistics from the federal government.