No industry left unscathed in Canadian economy gearing down – by Jen Skerritt, Danielle Bochove and Sandra Mergulhao (Bloomberg News – March 18, 2020)

First, office workers and bartenders were sent home. Now, the cogs of Canadian industry are slowly grinding down as major companies curb operations to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Firms like Vale SA are idling some operations while Canadian oil sands producers Syncrude Canada Ltd. and Suncor Energy Inc. are delaying maintenance work as coronavirus cases rise across Canada. Growth forecasts that were already revised lower amid the pandemic and tumbling oil prices are being cut again. Economists expect the virus will spur a recession with few industries left untouched.

“It looks like it’s going to be a broad-based economic downturn rather than companies being hit on their supply chains,” said Robert Hogue, senior economist at Royal Bank of Canada. “I’m pressed to think of any sectors that will be unscathed.”

In the past week, coronavirus cases have surged to 569 across Canada, including seven deaths in British Columbia and one in Ontario, which has declared a state of emergency. The U.S. and Canada have agreed to close the border between the two nations to non-essential traffic. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had already announced moves to limit entry of travelers from overseas.

Newfoundland Touched

The threat of infection spurred Vale, one of the world’s top metal producers, to idle its fly-in mining operations at Voisey’s Bay, Newfoundland, on Canada’s east coast. Concerns about flying workers from out of town led Syncrude to delay coker maintenance at its upgrader near Fort McMurray, Alberta, and Suncor pushed back planned work scheduled for May.

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