Impact of COVID-19 On Hiring In Canada In 2020

Impact-COVID-19_emploi Publié le 24 February 2021 Par

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating effects in Canada and throughout the world. Everyone has had to make dramatic changes in their daily lives, adapting to necessary rules and regulations to keep each other as safe as possible. The economic effects have been bad, with many people losing their jobs and those seeking employment have had a lot of difficulties finding opportunities. Now that the year has finally come to an end, it is possible to gather all the data and take a closer look at the economic impact of COVID-19 on hiring in Canada in 2020.

An Unprecedented Year for Canadian Workers

It goes without saying that no one would have predicted the events of 2020, or how it would impact workers and businesses across the country. The unemployment rate alone has fluctuated dramatically, with Statistics Canada reporting an unemployment rate of 4.5% at the beginning of March that would then soar to over 17% nationally. From February to April 2020, as the pandemic first really started to impact society in March and April, the Canadian employment rate declined by 15.7%, and 1,946,000 full-time employees and 1,059,000 part-time employees lost their jobs. These are staggering numbers. While some economists have noted that a large number of these job losses were a result of temporary layoffs, the impact on the individual workers and their families cannot be understated.

As government leaders argued the situation had stabilized and some restrictions were eased during the summer, the employment rate rose by a combined 3.8% in July and August 2020 as certain businesses were able to reopen under strict guidelines. Unfortunately, the second wave began to take hold in the fall, businesses once again closed and the hiring rate shrunk, and by December 2020 the Canadian unemployment rate rose once again.

The economic impact has been felt by people and businesses in all industries across the country. By analyzing Jobillico’s own data covering employment trends shows how widespread these effects have been over the course of 2020.

Jobillico’s Statistics

The Jobillico data team calculated the number of job vacancies published in each industry through every Canadian province. Ontario and Quebec make up a majority of the listings, as they are by far the most populous provinces and they have a high total number of job opportunities. 

To provide a varied cross section of the impact of COVID-19 on hiring in Canada in 2020, we selected the following industries for a closer look: 

  • Restaurants
  • Healthcare Services
  • Retail
  • IT & Software Development
  • Construction

Impact of COVID-19 on the Ontario Labour Market


2020 was a brutal year for the restaurant industry. Due to necessary distancing restrictions, restaurants have not been able to operate at full capacity since March of 2020. Many have made the switch to take-away, catering and delivery services, but sales are still far lower than a year ago, not to mention the large fees of popular delivery apps taking a large cut of the sales that have been made. The result is that thousands of jobs in the restaurant industry have been lost and over 10,000 restaurants in Canada have closed.

At Jobillico, we have seen a big drop in the number of job postings in the restaurant industry. In Ontario, there were 15,878 restaurant job postings in 2019 and only 10,315 in 2020, a 30% drop. There was a similar trend in Quebec, with 31,495 restaurant jobs posted in 2019 and 18,768 in 2020, a 40% drop.

Construction Industry

The construction industry has felt the impact of COVID-19, even as many construction sites were allowed to remain open due to their open-air work environment. Although a great deal of infrastructure and construction projects set in motion pre-pandemic continue, data shows that there were still fewer hiring opportunities in the industry.

In Ontario, there were 4,076 construction jobs posted on Jobillico in 2019, compared to only 1,642 in 2020, almost a 60% drop. The construction industry in Quebec saw a less severe decrease of just under 19%, with 22,920 construction jobs posted in 2019 and 18,660 in 2020.

Healthcare Services

The Healthcare services industry has been on the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 since it began. These courageous healthcare workers have been putting themselves at risk to provide life-saving care for others across the country. Due to the overwhelming need for these vital services and subsequent recruitment drives, there have actually been increases in the number of job postings in the healthcare services industry in multiple provinces.

In Ontario, the number of job postings in the healthcare industry rose from 32,692 in 2019 to 34,777 job offers in 2020. In Quebec, there was a slight decrease in healthcare job postings, from 11,955 in 2019 to 11,739, a 1.8% difference which is nowhere close to what has been experienced in other industries. Even though these numbers appear promising, there is still a huge demand being placed on healthcare workers, and there will very likely be more recruitment efforts made for roles in this industry in 2021.


The Retail sector has also experienced dramatic changes, and has felt a huge brunt of the economic impact of COVID-19 on hiring in 2020. Many stores and retail locations were not able to offer in-person shopping for most of the year because of the distancing measures needed to combat the deadly virus. While there have been recruitment efforts made for retail positions, many of them have been with large corporate-owned chain stores. Many small businesses quickly converted to online stores, but this still means that jobs were lost because of the lack of need for in-person customer support.

According to Jobillico data, in Ontario there were 55,049 retail jobs posted in 2019 and 47,575 in 2020. In Quebec, 76,517 job postings in 2019 decreased to 66,876. Each province experienced a similar drop of approximately 10,000 jobs in the retail sector.

IT & Software Development

If there is one thing that the previous year proved, it’s that the digital marketplace is here to stay. As millions of people transitioned to work-from-home job roles and small businesses opened online shops as quickly as possible, there was huge demand for the expertise of IT professionals. The result is that digital tech has entered almost every aspect of work, including the way workers communicate, work together and form supportive professional relationships.

The IT industry did experience layoffs and feel the negative economic impact of COVID-19 on hiring in 2020, but not to the extent of the retail or restaurant industries. In Ontario, there were 10,935 IT job offers in 2019 compared to 8,033 in 2020. In Quebec, the number of IT job offers dropped from 14,823 in 2019  to 11,955 in 2020.

Impact of COVID-19 on the Quebec Labour Market

The Fluctuating Job Market

The impact of COVID-19 on hiring in 2020 is plainly visible just in the number of job offers posted to Jobillico on a daily basis. In 2019, the number of jobs published on Jobillico reached almost 90,000 per day. During the strictest shutdown periods in 2020, this number was less than 50,000. There are currently between 60,000-70,000 jobs published on Jobillico per day.

There are still struggles ahead for Canadian workers and businesses, but there are also reasons to be cautiously hopeful. The COVID-19 vaccine roll-out is underway, with the government promising that every Canadian can be vaccinated in 2021. As long as people continue to follow the guidelines from healthcare experts and if businesses do everything possible to support workers and keep them safe, it is possible that the employment rate will steadily rise as the year progresses.