Statistics Canada says that border closures and travel restrictions will lead to the loss of between 400,000 and 500,000 jobs this year (2020).
The Ottawa-based statistical agency also says that limited travel throughout Canada is holding back the country’s economic recovery and will reduce total economic output this year by $37.1 billion or 1.7%.
The figures put a price tag on COVID-19 travel restrictions for the first time. Canada shut its borders to non-essential travel in March, and some provinces have also restricted internal movements. Tourism spending in Canada plummeted by nearly two thirds in the second quarter.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is facing pressure to ramp up relief efforts for hard-hit airlines and the tourism sector, but the prime minister has indicated that he will keep borders closed as long as virus cases stay elevated in the U.S.
Statistics Canada’s estimates, which incorporate ranges of the most pessimistic and optimistic scenarios of reopening travel, include indirect impacts of travel restrictions on other industries. As tourism spending falls, so does “demand for intermediate products and services provided by other industries, such as wholesale and retail trade, utilities and food manufacturing,” the agency said.
Ottawa plans to promote the country as a safe destination for international travel once the pandemic subsides. It has also launched a pilot program that offers COVID-19 tests to travelers arriving in Alberta to reduce quarantine times.