A second wave of COVID-19 this fall would send a tsunami through the country’s economy and in a worst-case scenario leave millions looking for the basic means to survive, a University of Toronto expert says.
With government aid capacities stretched thin, many industries on the ropes and the psyches of Canadian consumers already frayed, autumn spikes like those forecast for the U.S. could be catastrophic to both the health and wealth of this nation, according to several top economists.
“It could be really nasty,” says David Soberman, a marketing professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. “It’s really quite serious.”
Soberman says the country’s federal coffers have already been hit with a COVID-19 deficit well north of $300 billion this year, due largely to personal and corporate relief programs.
“And that doesn’t account for the deficits that are being run at the provincial and local municipal level,” he says.
“If we have a second wave it’s going to be very difficult to continue opening businesses, and that will have a very negative effect on the revenues that governments have as well.”
Should a second wave cause closures and lockdowns on the scale seen in the spring, Soberman says, many Canadians could be looking to governments for simple survival assistance — food and electricity — as winter closes in.