COVID-19 sparks new data partnerships for the Bank of Canada
The Bank of Canada is working with companies
to gain more granular detail regarding the impact of COVID-19 on small to medium sized businesses (SMEs), as well as the success of current policy responses in moderating those impacts. While not yet definitive, preliminary analysis hints that policies like the 75% wage subsidy
and small business loans
have helped mitigate the severity of job losses and business closures to date.
The Bank had previously relied almost entirely on GDP data, which can be too broad to yield granular insights and is generated only quarterly. QuickBooks has over 600,000 SMEs on their platform and is providing data regarding aging unpaid invoices, cash balances, and the creation of records of employment.
Naturally, SMEs that have the digital infrastructure in place to operate their business online are more able to weather the impacts of COVID-19. However, while approximately two-thirds of Canadians
buy products and services using eCommerce platforms, in 2017, just one-third of Canadian SMEs
had websites that allowed for online ordering or booking. It will be interesting to see how these figures change as a result of the virus.
ICT giants embracing permanent digital workforces
Canadian e-commerce giant Shopify announced last week they would close all offices until at least 2021, at which point almost all employees would work from home indefinitely
with access to small gathering spaces in regional hubs. Similar announcements
were made by US tech staples Facebook, Twitter, and Square, and according to Facebook, up to 50% of their 48,000-person workforce could be remote by 2030.
Depending on the breadth and reach of this trend, a permanent work-from-home workforce could have profound impacts on other policy challenges that persistently affect communities around the world–climate change, housing affordability, urban sprawl, urban transport, and internet access, to name a few.
Invest in Ottawa
CEO Michael Tremblay commented
that a digital-by-default approach could help Canada’s tech industry build, scale, and grow without having to worry about traditional roadblocks like commercial real estate availability. - Mairead Matthews