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Canada’s cannabis companies cut 6,000 jobs during COVID-19 pandemic

Canadian cannabis companies laid off about 6,000 people — or about 30% of their collective workforce — as the COVID-19 pandemic and oversupply took its toll on the industry.

Aurora Cannabis, shed around 1,357 jobs, Canopy Growth cut 1,173 positions, and Tilray reduced its work force by 616 according to the MjBiz Daily study.

All told, the job reductions amounted to about 30% of a total of 20,000 positions in the cannabis sector.

Not all companies laid people off. Out of the 50 companies in the study, 23 of them added a combined 1,697 jobs including High Tide and Pure Sunfarms.

The study of public filings also revealed that the country’s cannabis sector drew in more than $112 million in government money to keep or rehire employees. Most of the job figures were from 2020 filings since many of the companies have not yet filed figures for 2021 employment.

The layoffs came after the cannabis sector spent billions to build cultivation facilities but ended up destroying cannabis they could not sell. The supply glut also led to the sale of properties at a fraction of their construction cost.

Canadian companies have yet to recover, as players such as Aurora Cannabis continue to post losses. Canopy Growth also reported a loss in the third quarter.

Investors have reacted by bidding down shares of cannabis companies this year. Canopy Growth shares are down by 50% year-to-date. Aurora Cannabis shares have lost 16.8% in value in 2021 and the Cannabis ETF is off by 11.2%.

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