There will be severe impacts in the environment and cleantech sector but there may also be opportunities ahead, according to Alex Gill, executive director of the Ontario Environment Industry Association (ONEIA). The organization released the results of an industry survey, “COVID-19 and its Impact on our Industry,” on April 16, 2020.

The survey provides insight into how ONEIA members, representatives from across the environment industry in Ontario, have been impacted by the coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19). The survey results were presented at a well attended virtual town hall meeting. Gill and participants also provided sector-specific updates and feedback on the efficacy of new government supports.

Interestingly, in terms of job losses or gains, the research shows a fairly even split between companies that said there would be little or no change and those that said the COVID-19 control measures would hit them hard.  While eight per cent of companies said they would be hiring more staff and 44 per cent said they would maintain the status quo, almost half of respondents said they expected to lay off staff.

“COVID control measures are having a mixed impact across the environment and cleantech sector. Those that are doing essential work are adapting to the situation and forging ahead, while earlier stage companies and those that were not covered under the essential services category will face a tougher time,” says Gill. “When the economy is down, there is a tendency to treat environmental protection as an option, when in reality it’s more important than ever.”

From top to bottom: Connie Vitello, editor of environmentjournal.ca,
captured with Irene Hassas, vice president of corporate development at ASLAN Technologies and Alex Gill, executive director of ONEIA.

The survey, which was undertaken from April 5 to April 14, 2020, provides a snapshot of concerns and issues across the sector. The responses were generated from 43 companies, most of which provide environmental services.

“Right now, companies across the environment and cleantech sector need to share information,” advises Gill. “They will be making crucial decisions about the future of their companies in the coming months, and they need to get accurate information from the trade and business press – and from their industry associations – about what’s going on.”

Feedback on high impact areas assessed in the survey were not surprising: 45 per cent said they cancelled staff travel, 42 per cent have cancelled important meetings and events, and 34 per cent have cancelled contracts as they face operational pressures.

“There will be severe impacts in the environment and cleantech sector, just like other parts of the economy.  But there may also be opportunities for companies as well,” concludes Gill. “Many of the entrepreneurs and founders among our membership are already asking questions about what the world will look like, post-COVID, and how it can be a more sustainable and environmentally prosperous one.”

To read the complete survey results, click here.

Featured image of CN Tower by Tim Gouw, @punttim

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