P.E.I. has yet to have a COVID-19 hospitalization but hasn't dodged the economic impact of pandemic


This story is part of The COVID Economy, a CBC News series looking at how the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic is affecting jobs, manufacturing and business in regions across Canada.

Prince Edward Island has so far gotten off lightly on the public health front of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it's anticipated that the province will suffer along with other Canadian provinces economically.

At the end of April, the province had seen just 27 cases of COVID-19, with no hospitalizations. Bank economists, generally, are forecasting the island's GDP will drop less than the Canadian average this year, but the corresponding recovery will not be as strong in 2021, either.

Figures from Statistics Canada showed a big drop in employment in March, and provincial projections suggest it'll be worse in April. Those projections estimated lockdown restrictions to control the coronavirus will mean one in four people working at the beginning of March would have lost those jobs some time in April.

The provincial economy is cushioned somewhat by a large public service, not just with local governments but also the Department of Veterans Affairs in Charlottetown and a federal tax centre in Summerside, P.E.I.

Three of the four main private industries faced significant issues immediately. The fourth, aerospace, has reported it is still busy, with its biggest problem being accommodating physical distancing in the workplace.

The province's three traditional economic pillars — agriculture, fisheries and tourism — have not fared so well.