As the pandemic nears its end, many Canadians are looking back at career changes they were forced to make in 2020 as thousands were forced out of their jobs and industries were put on hold, with many smaller businesses ultimately closing permanently.
On March 24 of last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had announced more than 500,000 applications for employment insurance were received that week, almost double the amount from 2019
Statistics Canada released figures in June of this year that compared the economic situation during the pandemic in the provinces and territories. The data showed a significant difference in employment within Ontario especially.
Titled Economic impacts of COVID-19 in the provinces and territories, the report shows Canadians were heavily affected by job losses and were forced to find other ways to make money throughout the pandemic.
Richard Francis, 50, was one of those people. Francis worked as a tour guide and host on a coach bus that drove tourists to different casinos throughout Ontario.
When casinos closed on March 15 last year, Francis was forced out of his job. He started work as an Uber Eats delivery driver.
Francis says he relied on working as a delivery driver to make most of his money but also claimed government assistance.
“I was making good money with Uber and below the amount so I could also collect CERB – it was a real life-saver.”
Francis says he doesn’t think he’ll go back to his old line of work. “I will probably not go back to working as a tour guide, it was really enjoyable and I liked meeting new people but I am enjoying the freedom of Uber, now that the pandemic is ending I will probably take passengers as well to make even more money.”
While the service industry was one of the most hard-hit industries during the pandemic, airlines also took a big hit as travel was strictly prohibited for many countries. Farin Dhali, 29, was a flight attendant for Air Canada before she was temporarily laid off.
Before COVID, Dhali was working on international flights for roughly nine days a month, giving her a lot of time off. “I lost the job because of the pandemic, flights were cancelled because of border restrictions and so people couldn’t travel leaving less work in aviation,” she said.
Dhali began working for Service Canada in the interim as a payments officer. This meant that she was a customer support representative for the Canada pension plan and old age security department.
“I honestly didn’t like it as the 9-5 structure was too much for me,” she said. Dhali said she was used to the freedom of flying and having a lot of time off and with the temporary lay-off she felt lost but needed an income somehow.
Dhali said she recently got recalled and started back flying a few days a month. “I’m so lucky I get to go back to something I loved doing so much, I know so many people who left their jobs and love what they do now but for me it was like, ‘nothing beats flying’,” she said.