Briefing Note on the Health Care and Social Assistance Jobs at Risk in Niagara from the COVID-19 Coronavirus – May 7, 2020

Posted in News, COVID-19

Briefing Note on the Health Care and Social Assistance Jobs at Risk in Niagara from the COVID-19 Coronavirus – May 7, 2020

As part of NWPB’s ongoing efforts to provide updates on the employment and job changes resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, this briefing note outlines the known and potential employment impacts of the COVID-19 virus on the healthcare and social assistance sector.

From the outset of this pandemic, the healthcare sector has represented the front line of Ontario and Canada’s coordinated effort to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus, particularly in large health care institutions such as the Niagara Health System, as well as long-term care facilities and retirement homes. However, health services also encompass smaller care providers including but not limited to dentists, physicians, physiotherapists, and optometrists. These examples of smaller-sized medical service providers generally encompass the “ambulatory care” sector (i.e. medical care focused on out-patient diagnosis, consultation, and treatment).

Many of these health service providers were not listed as essential services in Ontario and could not operate while maintaining social distance. As such, the impacts of the COVID-19 virus on the health care and social assistance sector can change depending on the size of the provider and the work they are doing. Data from the Niagara COVID-19 Business Impact Survey (NCBIS) shows how COVID-19 had a particular impact on these smaller-sized health care providers.[1] For example, employers who reported laying off all of their full-time staff had an average of only three full-time staff.

Additional data from the NCBIS provides insights on how many health care and social assistance providers closed due to COVID-19. Approximately 60.1% of survey respondents noted that they had closed temporarily due to the virus. However, only 1.7% of respondents reported permanently closing.

For context additional context, this briefing note reports on the most recent job counts in health care and social assistance as a means of explaining the extent of this employment sector in Niagara and the potential for change due to COVID-19.

Niagara housed an estimated 24,206 jobs in health care and social assistance in the 2019 calendar year. This figure is inclusive of both full-time and part-time work. These jobs account for approximately 13.0% of all jobs in Niagara.

Health Care and Social Assistance Sectors 2019 Jobs Percentage of Health Care and Social Assistance Jobs
Ambulatory (out-patient) health care services 6,769 28.0%
Hospitals 5,680 23.5%
Nursing and residential care facilities 7,780 32.1%
Social assistance 3,978 16.4%
Health Care and Social Assistance Total 24,206

Source: EMSI Analyst, 2019.3 dataset, employees, 2019 data are based on a mathematical extrapolation of partial 2019 data.


Niagara also housed 3,114 self-employed jobs in health care and social assistance. The vast majority of these jobs were found in ambulatory health care services, and likely reflect a single medical practitioner offering specialized services. These types of self-employment positions account for 9.6% of Niagara’s self-employment.

Health Care and Social Assistance Sectors 2019 Jobs Percentage of Healthcare and Social Assistance Jobs
Ambulatory (out-patient) health care services 2,156 69.2%
Hospitals 0 0.0%
Nursing and residential care facilities 19 0.6%
Social assistance 940 30.2%
Health Care and Social Assistance Total 3,114

Source: EMSI Analyst, 2019.3 dataset, self-employed, 2019 data are based on a mathematical extrapolation of partial 2019 data.



When employed and self-employed jobs are combined, they account for 27,321 total jobs in health care and social assistance in Niagara. This figure represents 12.5% of all jobs in both traditional and self-employment.

Largest Healthcare and Social Assistance Sectors 2019 Jobs Percentage of Healthcare and Social Assistance Jobs
Ambulatory (out-patient) health care services 8,925 32.7%
Hospitals 5,680 20.8%
Nursing and residential care facilities 7,799 28.5%
Social assistance 4,917 18.0%
Health Care and Social Assistance Total 27,321

Source: EMSI Analyst, 2019.3 dataset, employed and self-employed, 2019 data are based on a mathematical extrapolation of partial 2019 data.


These data represent the complexity of the health and social assistance sector and the different ways we can anticipate changes in jobs. Recent data from Statistics Canada provides some additional insights that show how COVID-19 may be having a more pronounced impact on health care and social assistance sector than the economy as a whole.

Across all employers in Ontario, only 1% of business reported permanently closing due to COVID-19, compared 1.7% of health care and social assistance employers who completed the NCBIS. Similarly, Ontario saw 58.0% of all employers close temporarily, compared to 60.1% of health care employers who completed the NCBIS closing temporarily[2]. These differences reflect how impacts on the health care and social assistance sector are unique compared to the overall economy, and, as seen earlier in this briefing note, unique within health care and social assistance sector, itself.

Despite disruptions from the COVID-19 virus, Niagara has continued to see some job demand in health care and social assistance. Most of these opportunities are for registered nurses, registered practical nurses, and personal support workers. The employers hiring these individuals are typically large-sized health care providers such as hospitals, retirement communities, or long-term care providers.

NWPB will continue to work with our partners across Niagara to provide insights and updates on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. A second delivery of the Niagara COVID-19 Business Impact Survey will likely provide additional insights on potential changing impacts in health care and social assistance. Updated Labour Force Survey data available on May 8, 2020 may also provide additional insights for this sector.


What to do in Uncertain Times


The coming months are likely to prove challenging for all Niagara residents. Individuals experiencing employment disruptions can access resources and support from Niagara’s Employment Ontario service providers. Contact information for a service provider near you can be found through this link.

For all other inquiries please contact Vivian Kinnaird.


[1]: These data are derived from the Niagara COVID-19 Business Impact Survey, which was delivered by the Niagara Economic Rapid Response Team and was collected between March 20 and March 30, 2020 NWPB gratefully acknowledges the efforts of Niagara’s twelve municipalities and the Regional Municipality of Niagara in delivering this survey.

[2]: Statistics Canada, Survey of Business Conditions, Table Table: 33-10-0230-01.



More COVID-19 News:

Changing Job Demand Patterns in Niagara Amid COVID-19 – May 21, 2020

Changing Job Demand Patterns in Niagara Amid COVID-19 – May 21, 2020

This briefing note continues NWPB’s ongoing efforts to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting local job demand.

Read more

#ImmigrantsWork: Building Immigrant Inclusion into Business Recovery Plans

#ImmigrantsWork: Building Immigrant Inclusion into Business Recovery Plans

Last week, NWPB participated in the #ImmigrantsWork live twitter chat on immigrant integration in the Canadian workforce. Learn more about the ongoing campaign as we focus on an inclusive #COVID19 recovery.

Read more