Transcript: COVID-19 and the Hidden Office Economy | Oct 08, 2020

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, checkered shirt, and gray tie.

A caption on screen reads "COVID-19 and the hidden office economy. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says IN BUSINESS CENTRES ACROSS THE PROVINCE, THIS PANDEMIC HAS INDUCED AN EERIE QUIET. THAT'S ESPECIALLY TRUE FOR PLACES SUCH AS THE NORMALLY BUSTLING CONCOURSES BENEATH OFFICE TOWERS EVERYWHERE. THINK OF ALL THOSE COFFEE SHOPS, GIFT STORES, SHOE REPAIR AND MYRIAD SMALL SERVICE AND RETAIL OUTLETS THAT THRIVE ON THE DAILY FOOT TRAFFIC OF THOUSANDS OF WORKERS, MANY OF WHOM ARE NOW WORKING FROM HOME. WHAT'S BECOME OF THOSE FOLKS AND THEIR BUSINESSES? WELL, LET'S FIND OUT: WE'RE GOING TO ASK. IN BOWMANVILLE, ONTARIO, GRANT HUMES, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TORONTO FINANCIAL DISTRICT BIA, BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT AREA...

Grant is in his sixties, clean-shaven, with short, side-parted gray hair. He's wearing glasses and a white shirt.

Steve continues AND IN THE PROVINCIAL CAPITAL: IN THE BEACHES: SAMANTHA SANELLA, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC PLANNING AT THE GLOBAL COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE FIRM CUSHMAN and WAKEFIELD...

Samantha is in her forties, with long wavy blond hair. She's wearing glasses and a gray blazer.

Steve continues AND RIGHT IN DOWNTOWN: JOSEPH BENNETT, A HAIRSTYLIST WHO HAS BEEN WORKING IN TORONTO'S UNDERGROUND PATH SYSTEM FOR NEARLY 30 YEARS...

Joseph is in his late fifties, balding, with a goatee. He's wearing a gray shirt.

Steve continues IT'S GREAT TO WELCOME ALL OF YOU TO TVO TONIGHT. GRANT, GET US STARTED HERE BECAUSE YOU REPRESENT THE COMPANIES AND THE RETAILERS WHICH REALLY DO TRULY MAKE UP THIS HIDDEN OFFICE ECONOMY. WHEN YOU ARE LOOKING AT THE RETAILERS AND THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY AND THE SERVICE PROVIDERS, JUST LET'S START WITH THIS: HOW IMPORTANT WOULD YOU SAY THEY ARE TO THE OVERALL HEALTH OF THE CITY'S ECONOMY?

The caption changes to "Grant Humes. Toronto Financial District BIA."
Then, it changes again to "Everyone is working from home."

Grant says VERY IMPORTANT. IF YOU LOOK AT THE PATH, THERE'S 1200 RETAIL SERVICES AND STOREFRONTS, WELL OVER 5,000 PEOPLE EMPLOYED. IT'S A VERY IMPORTANT DRIVER, AND, YOU KNOW, IF YOU LOOK AT IT RIGHT NOW, YOU KNOW, CLEARLY NUMBERS ARE DOWN. YOU KNOW, MANY PEOPLE ARE WORKING FROM HOME, AS YOU SAID. THERE ARE A GREAT NUMBER OF RETAILERS THAT ARE OPEN AND THERE IS CLEARLY TRAFFIC IN THE PATH, I GO DOWN ON A REGULAR BASIS AND SPEND TIME IN THE OFFICE. PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE RIGHT NOW IS ENSURING THAT THIS MIXED BATCH OF FEDERAL AID FOR SMALL BUSINESS ROLLS OUT IN A TIMELY FASHION. I THINK THAT'S GOING TO BE REALLY IMPORTANT AS WE ENTER INTO STAGE 2 TO LOOK AFTER SMALL RETAILERS AND A KEY FOCUS WE'VE HAD IS AROUND WORKER CONFIDENCE. WHAT'S IMPORTANT IS TO GET OFFICE WORKERS BACK IN THE OFFICE. WE'RE IN A HEALTH EMERGENCY STILL SO WE HAVE TO BE COGNIZANT OF THAT. A LOT OF WORK HAS BEEN DONE TO ENSURE THE PROTOCOLS IN PLACE. YOU HAVE TO WEAR A MASK IN THE PATH. WHEN I GO DOWN, EVERYBODY IS COMPLIANT. PUBLIC HEALTH ADVICE IS BEING ADHERED TO. I THINK PROBABLY ONE OF THE KEY MESSAGES FOR ME IN THIS CONVERSATION TODAY, STEVE, AND I'VE GOT TO GET ACROSS TO EVERYBODY, THE OFFICE IS NOT GOING AWAY. THE WORKERS THAT THESE SMALL RETAILERS RELY ON, PEOPLE LIKE JOSEPH WHO IS HERE WITH US TODAY, THEY WILL COME BACK. BUSINESSES ARE ALWAYS GOING TO WANT TO HAVE, YOU KNOW, HIGH QUALITY OFFICE SPACE FOR THEIR EMPLOYEES, FOR EMPLOYEE GROWTH AND COLLABORATION, PARTICULARLY THE LARGE NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS THAT ARE LOCATED IN THE FINANCIAL DISTRICT IN THE PATH, AND THOSE WORKERS ARE GOING TO WANT A VIBRANT EXPERIENCE...

Steve says LET ME JUMP IN HERE FOR A SECOND, GRANT. YOU AND I HAVE BOTH MENTIONED THE PATH A NUMBER OF TIMES ALREADY. I DON'T WANT TO ASSUME THAT EVERYBODY KNOWS WHAT THAT IS. BECAUSE IF YOU'RE NOT FAMILIAR WITH THE FINANCIAL DISTRICT? DOWNTOWN TORONTO, YOU MAY NOT KNOW IT. SHELDON, LET'S GO TO THE TOP OF PAGE 2 AND BRING THIS GRAPHIC UP RIGHT NOW SO WE CAN EXPLAIN TO EVERYBODY WHO IS UNFAMILIAR WITH IT WHAT IT IS. IT IS, AS THE NAME SUGGESTS, IT'S A PATH OF, YOU KNOW, UNDERGROUND SYSTEMS IN THE CITY THAT CONNECT 75 DIFFERENT BUILDINGS TO THE SO-CALLED PATH.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "At a glance: Toronto's PATH System."

Steve reads data from the slate and says
THERE ARE TWO MAJOR DEPARTMENT STORES ON IT. THERE ARE NINE HOTELS ON IT. NUMEROUS TOURIST ATTRACTIONS. THERE ARE SIX SUBWAY STATIONS ALONG WITH TORONTO'S BUSIEST TRANSIT HUB, THAT'S UNION STATION. AND IT ACTUALLY IS 30 KILOMETRES LONG. 3.7 MILLION SQUARE FEET OF RETAIL SPACE. 1200 RESTAURANTS, SHOPS, AND SERVICES. IT GENERATES ROUGHLY... IMAGINE THIS... 1.7 BILLION dollars IN SALES ANNUALLY IN NORMAL TIMES. AND THERE ARE AN ESTIMATED 4600 JOBS IN THE PATH AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, WHEN THE WEATHER GETS AWFUL IN TORONTO, AS IT ALWAYS DOES EVERY YEAR, THE PATH IS A GREAT PLACE TO HANG OUT BECAUSE YOU'VE GOT LIKE A WHOLE UNDERGROUND CITY THERE WITH LOTS OF STUFF TO DO. SAMANTHA, PICK UP THE STORY FROM THERE. IS THERE ANY SENSE OF WHAT PERCENTAGE OF WORKERS IN THE OFFICE... WHO ARE IN THE OFFICE, RATHER, AND HOW MANY ARE STILL WORKING REMOTELY?

The caption changes to "Samantha Sanella. Cushman and Wakefield."

Samantha says SO WE ESTIMATE RIGHT NOW ONLY 2 TO 10 PERCENT OF OFFICE WORKERS HAVE ACTUALLY RETURNED TO THE OFFICE. OUR TEAM IS FOCUSED ON RETURNING PEOPLE TO THE OFFICE AND MITIGATING THE RISK OF THE VIRUS SPREAD. SO WE'VE IMPLEMENTED A LOT OF STRATEGIES FOR CLIENTS IN TORONTO AND ACROSS CANADA TO DO THAT, WHICH ARE A MIX OF PHYSICAL INTERVENTIONS AND BEHAVIOURAL PROTOCOLS TO MAKE SURE THAT PEOPLE CAN OPERATE WITHIN THEIR OFFICE ENVIRONMENT AND TRUST THAT EVERYBODY IS DOING THE BEST THEY CAN DO TO REDUCE THAT RISK OF SPREAD. HOWEVER, WE ARE STILL SEEING THAT REDUCED RATE OF RETURN. SO WHILE WE HAVE PRODUCED PLANS THAT ACTUALLY MAXIMIZE CAPACITY THUS FAR AND STILL LET PEOPLE BE SOMEWHAT SAFE, WE STILL SEE THAT REDUCED RATE OF RETURN. AND I THINK ONE OF THE REASONS IS THE RELUCTANCE TO TAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. WE KNOW FROM THE TTC IN THE STUDY THEY PRODUCED IN THE SUMMER THAT RIDERSHIP WAS DOWN 86 percent. SO PSYCHOLOGICALLY, I THINK PEOPLE AREN'T PREPARED TO TAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, AND THAT GREATLY AFFECTS THE DOWNTOWN POPULATION.

Steve says HAVE YOU BEEN ON THE SUBWAY OR STREETCAR OR BUS LATELY?

Samantha says I HAVE NOT. HOWEVER, MY SON, WHO IS A HIGHER RISK-TAKER THAN ME, HAS TAKEN BOTH AND HE SAYS, MOM, IT'S PERFECTLY FINE.

Steve says I WAS GOING TO SAY THAT. I'M ON THE SUBWAY QUITE FREQUENTLY, AND IT'S PERFECTLY FINE. I MEAN, EVERYBODY MASKS UP AND IF YOU DON'T HAVE ONE, THEY'LL HAND YOU ONE AS YOU WALK IN, AND IT REALLY LOOKS LIKE, YOU KNOW... I GUESS WHAT I'M GETTING AT HERE IS, YOU KNOW, THE TTC, I DON'T THINK IS ANY LONGER A GOOD ENOUGH EXPLANATION FOR WHY PEOPLE AREN'T COMING BACK BECAUSE THE TTC SEEMS PERFECTLY SAFE, IN WHICH CASE, WHY DO YOU THINK THERE'S ADDITIONAL RELUCTANCE FROM PEOPLE TO COME BACK? BECAUSE 2 TO 10 percent PEOPLE BACK IN THOSE BUILDINGS IS NOT VERY MUCH.

The caption changes to "Samantha Sanella, @CushWakeCanada."

Samantha says WE MAY SEE A SHIFT AS THE WEATHER CHANGES. WHAT I LIKE TO SAY IS A CANADIAN DOESN'T USE AN EXCUSE TO BE OUTDOORS IN THE SUMMER. NOW THAT KIDS HAVE RETURNED TO SCHOOL AND WE'RE GOING TO START SEEING COLDER WEATHER, PEOPLE MIGHT SLIP INTO THE OFFICE MORE. ALSO, I THINK THAT WORKING FROM HOME WAS A BIT OF A NOVELTY AT FIRST, BUT THAT'S SORT OF STARTING TO WEAR THIN. WE ARE SEEING THAT PEOPLE... YOU KNOW, THERE IS A PRODUCTIVITY LOSS THAT'S HAPPENING NOW THAT WE DIDN'T SEE IN THE SUMMER MONTHS, AND PEOPLE ARE SORT OF GETTING WARY OF ZOOM MEETINGS, SO THEY'RE HAVING ZOOM FATIGUE. I DO THINK WE'LL PROBABLY START TO SEE AN INCREASE. OF COURSE, IF WE'RE ALL INDOORS AND WE START TO SEE AN INCREASE IN THE VIRUS MORE SO THAN WE ARE NOW, THEN WE'RE GOING TO HAVE THAT REVERSAL. LET'S SAY I'M POSITIVE THAT IN OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER WE WILL START TO SEE A BIT OF AN INCREASE DOWNTOWN, AND THEN WE'LL SEE WHAT HAPPENS, OF COURSE, IF PEOPLE AREN'T BEHAVING AND WE SEE MORE OF THE VIRUS SPREAD, SO OF COURSE THAT'S ALWAYS THE BIG FACTOR.

Steve says RIGHT, GOTCHA. JOSEPH, LET'S TELL YOUR STORY HERE. WHERE DO YOU WORK IN THE PATH?

The caption changes to "Joseph Bennett. Catherine J. Salon."

Joseph says I WORK AT A SALON IN THE STANDARD LIFE CENTRE. I'VE WORKED IN THE TD CENTRE, I'VE WORKED AT RICHMOND ADELAIDE CENTRE.

Steve says SO RIGHT IN THE HEART OF THE FINANCIAL DISTRICT.

Joseph says RIGHT IN THE HEART OF IT, YES.

Steve says AND WHEN BUSINESS IS NORMAL, IN OTHER WORDS WHEN THERE ISN'T A GLOBAL PANDEMIC AFFECTING THE PATH AND EVERYTHING ELSE, HOW IS BUSINESS?

Joseph says BUSINESS IS FANTASTIC. WHEN YOU HAVE 40 FLOORS OF PEOPLE AND PEOPLE WALKING BY YOUR DOOR, YOU TEND TO HAVE BUSINESS. NOW WE'RE DOWN 90 percent AT OUR BUSINESS.

Steve says WELL, THAT CERTAINLY JIBES WITH THE NUMBERS SAMANTHA JUST GAVE US. ARE YOU STILL GOING INTO WORK?

Joseph says I'VE GONE FROM FOUR 10-HOUR DAYS TO ONE 3-HOUR DAY A WEEK.

Steve says YIKES. WHAT'S THAT DONE TO YOUR BOTTOM LINE?

Joseph says WELL, THERE'S NO BOTTOM LINE LEFT, STEVE. LIKE, IT'S JUST... YOU KNOW, IT'S JUST... SO I'M TAKING... I'M DOING HAIR AT PEOPLE'S HOMES. I'VE BECOME A TRAVELLING HAIRDRESSER, IS WHAT I'VE BECOME.

Steve says DO YOU LIKE THAT?

Joseph says NOT REALLY MY GIG, NO.

[LAUGHTER]

Steve says WHAT DO YOU THINK IS GOING... I MEAN, OBVIOUSLY, GIVEN WHAT SAMANTHA JUST SAID, WE NEED PEOPLE TO FEEL COMFORTABLE ENOUGH TO RETURN TO THEIR OFFICES, WHICH WILL CREATE THE FOOT TRAFFIC THAT WILL PUT YOU BACK IN BUSINESS. WHAT'S IT GOING TO TAKE FOR THAT TO HAPPEN?

The caption changes to "No customers."

Joseph says WELL, IF THERE'S NOT ANOTHER OUTBREAK, WE'LL BE OKAY. BUT I THINK PEOPLE ARE VERY SCARED AT THIS POINT. I'M VERY FORTUNATE, STEVE, BECAUSE I CAN WALK TO WORK. LIKE, I DON'T NEED TO BE AFRAID OF TRANSIT. BUT MY PARTNER TAKES TRANSIT ALL THE TIME AND IT'S NEVER BEEN BETTER, HE SAYS. SO, YOU KNOW, LIKE I JUST THINK WE NEED TO TAKE AND START MOVING PEOPLE BACK IN SLOWLY.

Steve says AND AS YOU GO DOWN TO WORK THERE, JOSEPH, DO YOU HAVE ANY... YOU KNOW, DO YOU HAVE ANY FEARS ABOUT CONTRACTING THE VIRUS OR, YOU KNOW, ENGAGING WITH PEOPLE, THAT KIND OF THING?

Joseph says STEVE, I'VE BECOME THE CLOROX KING AND ALCOHOL KING AT MY SALON. WE WEAR FACE MASKS AND... WE TEND TO DO PEOPLE THAT THERE'S ABSOLUTELY ZERO WALK-INS TO OUR BUSINESS NOW. SO PEOPLE WHO ARE COMING, WE'VE KNOWN FOR 20-PLUS YEARS.

Steve says I THINK WE'VE GOT TO GET EILEEN DA VILLA ON SPEED DIAL. YOU'D BE A GREAT AMBASSADOR FOR PUBLIC HEALTH IN THIS CITY, THERE'S NO DOUBT ABOUT IT.

[LAUGHTER]

Steve says GRANT, PICK UP THE STORY, IF YOU WOULD. GIVE US A SENSE OF WHAT'S HAPPENING TO THE RENTS THAT BUSINESSES ARE PAYING RIGHT NOW, BECAUSE CLEARLY WITH NOT ENOUGH BUSINESS COMING IN, I DON'T KNOW HOW THEY'RE PAYING THEIR RENT. SO WHAT'S HAPPENING?

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Grant says WELL, AN IMPORTANT ELEMENT THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BROUGHT OUT WAS THE COMMERCIAL RENT PROGRAM, AND THAT RAN UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER, SO IT'S EXPIRED NOW. THERE ARE REPORTS THAT THEY DO PLAN TO ROLL OUT ANOTHER SMALL AID PACKAGE, SMALL BUSINESS AID PACKAGE, AND THAT WILL BE RETROACTIVE TO OCTOBER 1ST. SO THE RENT IS THE BIGGEST FIXED COST THESE PLACES HAVE, THESE BUSINESSES. SO IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT WE GET THAT IN PLACE TO HELP THEM OVER THE HUMP, IT'S A LIFELINE FOR THEM. AND CLEARLY TENANTS AND LANDLORDS HAVE ONGOING CONVERSATIONS, YOU KNOW, THAT'S PART OF THE RELATIONSHIP THEY HAVE, AND CERTAINLY THESE LANDLORDS UNDERSTAND WHAT IS HAPPENING TO TENANTS AND THEY'RE DOING WHATEVER THEY CAN TO HELP THEM WITH REGARD TO THAT. BUT I THINK THE KEY THING HERE IS THIS AID PACKAGE IS ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL FOR SMALL BUSINESS RIGHT NOW BECAUSE WE DO HAVE A BIT OF A HUMP LEFT THAT WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO GET THROUGH.

Steve says WELL, THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT MADE AN ANNOUNCEMENT THE OTHER DAY, WORKED OUT TO SOMETHING LIKE 1,000 dollars FOR EACH SMALL BUSINESS THAT WAS ELIGIBLE FOR IT. HOW MUCH OF A HELP DOES THAT HELP?

The caption changes to "Grant Humes, @MyTOFD."

Grant says I THINK THE ONE YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT IS THE PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT. SO THAT CERTAINLY HELPS. BUT THIS PARTICULAR ONE IS SPECIFICALLY WITH REGARD TO THE RENT. THE SMALL BUSINESS PROGRAM ONLY PAID 25 percent OF THEIR RENT AND IT WAS APPLIED FOR BY THE LANDLORD. THE NEW PROGRAM, WE'RE HEARING, WILL BE APPLIED FOR BY THE BUSINESS, WHICH IS GREAT. PUTS THEM IN CONTROL. IT'S IMPORTANT WE GET THAT MONEY INTO THEIR HANDS IMMEDIATELY. SO THESE CONVERSATIONS ARE UNDERWAY AND I THINK WE'LL SEE SOMETHING QUITE QUICKLY THERE.

Steve says THE ACRONYM, CANADA EMERGENCY COMMERCIAL RENT ASSISTANCE. BUT THAT WAS, IF I UNDERSTOOD THAT PROGRAM RIGHT, THE LANDLORD HAD TO... I MEAN, THE LANDLORD HAD TO APPLY FOR IT AND PLAY BALL AND NOT THAT MANY OF THEM, AS IT TURNS OUT, WANTED TO DO THAT, BECAUSE IT MEANT THEM TAKING A 25 percent HAIRCUT. SO HOW SUCCESSFUL IS THE PROGRAM?

Grant says THE LANDLORDS I TALK TO ON A REGULAR BASIS, THEY ALL APPLIED FOR IT. ONE OF THE ISSUES WITH THE PROGRAM IS NOT EVERYBODY QUALIFIED, DEPENDING ON THE LOSS OF YOUR BUSINESS, THE SIZE OF YOUR BUSINESS. SO I THINK THERE WAS LIMITATIONS UNDERSTOOD WITH THAT AND THEY ARE LOOKING TO ADDRESS THOSE LIMITATIONS IN THE NEW PROGRAM. AS I SAID, THEY HAVE TO GET IT OUT THERE. IT NEEDS TO HAPPEN NOW.

Steve says JOSEPH, I HOPE YOU DIDN'T TAKE OFFENCE WHEN I SAID THE LANDLORDS HAVE TO TAKE A 25 percent HAIRCUT ON THINGS. I DIDN'T MEAN TO DISPARAGE YOUR BUSINESS THERE, JUST FOR THE RECORD, JUST FOR THE RECORD.

[LAUGHTER]

Steve says SAMANTHA, YOU'RE THE LANDLORD, RIGHT? SO HOW SUCCESSFUL WAS THIS PROGRAM FROM YOUR VANTAGE POINT?

Samantha says WE'RE NOT QUITE A LANDLORD BUT WE DO REPRESENT A LOT OF LANDLORDS. SOME LANDLORDS DIDN'T APPLY FOR IT AND SOME DID. SO WE'VE HAD MIXED RESULTS. WE HAVE FOLKS AT CURBMAN and WAKEFIELD THAT CAN HELP WITH THAT, THEY DO HELP APPLY FOR IT AND HELP WITH THE PROGRAM, THAT'S PART OF OUR ASSETS SERVICES GROUP. I AM HAPPY TO HEAR THAT THE BUSINESSES CAN NOW APPLY FOR IT DIRECTLY BECAUSE I THINK THAT'S A MUCH BETTER SOLUTION THAN HAVING THE EXTRA STEP IN THE MIDDLE. I ALSO KNOW THAT LANDLORDS REALLY DIDN'T WANT TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR IT. SO I THINK IT WAS A BIT OF AN ONEROUS TASK ON THEM. SO HOPEFULLY WE'LL SEE SOME PICKUP WITH THAT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES. I JUST HOPE THE PROCESS IS NOT TOO ONEROUS ON THEM OR TOO BUREAUCRATIC. I KNOW SOME SMALL BUSINESSES ARE BARELY HANGING ON. RENTS ARE EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE DOWNTOWN IN THE PAST, AND SMALL BUSINESSES OPERATE ON VERY LEAN MARGINS.

Steve says MAYBE YOU CAN FILL IN SOME BLANKS THERE. AGAIN, PEOPLE WHO ARE OUTSIDE THE CAPITAL CITY OF THE PROVINCE MAY NOT APPRECIATE HOW MUCH YOU DO HAVE TO PAY FOR RENT IN THE FINANCIAL DISTRICT. CAN YOU PUT SOME NUMBERS ON THAT FOR US?

Samantha says SURE. SO IT'S NOT UNHEARD OF FOR A SMALL BUSINESS, LET'S SAY, THAT'S EVEN 300 SQUARE FEET, TO PAY 10,000 dollars A MONTH. AND SOME SMALL BUSINESSES, YOU KNOW, RETAIL BUSINESSES CAN PAY 20,000, 25,000 dollars A MONTH. AND AS WE ALL KNOW, RETAIL IS A VERY HARD INDUSTRY AND IT'S BEEN DECIMATED, OF COURSE, BY COVID. SO WHEN YOU'RE PAYING 25,000 dollars A MONTH AND TRYING TO MEET YOUR PAYROLL, IT'S A VERY HARD TASK TO MANAGE.

Steve says JOSEPH, WHAT DID YOU GUYS DO AT THE SALON IN TERMS OF TRYING TO DEAL WITH ISSUES AROUND RENT?

Joseph says CATHERINE SPOKE TO THE LANDLORD AND I THINK SHE'S GOT THE 25 percent REBATE OR... I'M NOT REALLY... I REALLY DON'T KNOW WHAT'S HAPPENED WITH THAT. I JUST KNOW THAT SHE IS WORKING SIX DAYS A WEEK SHE'S GOING IN TO TRY TO STAY AFLOAT. SHE'S GOING IN FROM MONDAY TO SATURDAY.

Steve says AND DO YOU KNOW... DID SHE WORK SOMETHING OUT WITH THE LANDLORD?

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Joseph says SHE WORKED SOMETHING OUT, YES. BUT YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? WHEN YOU'RE 90 TO 95 PERCENT DOWN IN BUSINESS, WHAT YOU WORK OUT WITH THE LANDLORD FROM 10,000 OR 12,000 dollars A MONTH IS NOT A LOT. I'VE WORKED AT A SALON IN TD CENTRE WHERE THEY WERE PAYING 20,000 dollars A MONTH. SO 20,000 dollars A MONTH WITH 25 percent, IF THERE'S NO MONEY COMING IN OR THERE'S NO TRAFFIC, YOU'RE NOT REALLY AHEAD WITH ANYTHING, I FEEL ANYWAY.

Steve says SURE. HAS SHE HAD TO LAY OFF STAFF?

Joseph says PARDON ME?

Steve says HAS SHE HAD TO LAY OFF STAFF?

Joseph says NO, OUR STAFF ARE ALL SELF-EMPLOYED IN HER SALON.

Steve says I SEE.

Joseph says WE'RE ALL CONTRACTORS THERE. SHE HAS BEEN VERY FORTUNATE WITH THAT. SO WE CAN COME AND GO AND PICK AND CHOOSE OUR OWN HOURS.

Steve says DO YOU RENT A SPOT FROM HER; IS THAT HOW IT WORKS?

Joseph says YES. WELL, SHE TAKES A COMMISSION CUT FROM ME. REALLY IT'S LIKE... IT'S LIKE WITH MYSELF, STEVE, I'M USUALLY IN THE PATH AT 7:00 IN THE MORNING TO 5:00 IN THE EVENING FOUR DAYS A WEEK. LIKE, WHEN I WAS WORKING FULL TIME, WHEN I HAD CLIENTS VERSUS... BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE WOULD WALK BY OUR DOOR A DAY. NOW WE PROBABLY HAVE... LIKE, I WAS IN WEDNESDAY AND THERE WAS PROBABLY 15 PEOPLE WHO WALKED BY. SO OUR TOWER IS ABOUT A 2 TO 5 percent CAPACITY.

Steve says AND I GUESS A LOT OF YOUR BUSINESS WOULD BE PEOPLE SPONTANEOUSLY DECIDING, OH, I'VE GOT 15 FREE MINUTES, I'M GOING TO JUMP IN AND GET A HAIRCUT NOW?

Joseph says EXACTLY. YOU HAVE THAT. ESPECIALLY MEN. BECAUSE MEN TEND TO BE IN A RUSH FOR EVERYTHING SO...

[LAUGHTER]

Steve says GOTCHA. WELL, LET'S PUT SOME MORE STATS ON THE RECORD HERE. SHELDON, IF YOU WOULD, I'M ON THE BOTTOM OF PAGE 3 HERE. CUSHMAN and WAKEFIELD, THAT'S SAMANTHA'S FIRM, RECENTLY DID A GLOBAL STUDY ON THE FUTURE OF OFFICE REAL ESTATE. HERE'S WHAT IT FOUND.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "The future of office real estate."

Steve reads data from the slate and says
THE COVID-19 EFFECT ON OFFICE SPACE WILL SURPASS THE 2008 FINANCIAL CRISIS WITH THE STEEPEST LEVEL OF VACANCIES IN THE U.S., CANADA, AND EUROPEAN COUNTRIES. THE GLOBAL OFFICE VACANCY RATE WILL RISE FROM 10.9 percent PRE-CRISIS, THAT'S BASICALLY BACK IN THE FOURTH QUARTER OF 2019, WILL GO FROM 10.9 percent TO 15.6 percent IN THE SECOND QUARTER OF 2022. NOW, WITH ECONOMIC AND EMPLOYMENT RECOVERY, GLOBAL OFFICE VACANCY IS EXPECTED TO RETURN TO PRE-CRISIS LEVELS OF APPROXIMATELY 11 percent, BUT THEY'RE LOOKING AT THE YEAR 2025 BEFORE THAT HAPPENS. AND RENTS ARE EXPECTED TO BOTTOM OUT BY THE FIRST QUARTER OF 2022 AND RETURN TO PRE-CRISIS PEAK LEVELS IN 2025. ALL RIGHT. LET'S UNPACK A LOT OF THE INFORMATION THERE. SAMANTHA, YOU KNOW, I GUESS THE GOOD NEWS IS, YOU SEE A COMEBACK COMING. I GUESS THE BAD NEWS IS, FIVE YEARS FROM NOW?

Samantha says WELL, NOT QUITE. BECAUSE TORONTO, AND CANADA IN GENERAL, FARES BETTER THAN THE GLOBAL AND U.S. STATISTICS. SO I'D LIKE TO PUT THAT IN PERSPECTIVE FOR TORONTO, IF I MAY? SO WHILE THOSE STATS SHOW A 10 percent VACANCY GLOBALLY, I THINK OR SO, I CAN'T SEE THE SLIDES ANYMORE BUT I THINK THAT'S WHAT IT SAID, TORONTO REALLY HAS BEEN AT 2 percent VACANCY DOWNTOWN FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS. WE'VE HAD THE TIGHTEST OFFICE MARKET IN ALL OF NORTH AMERICA, WHICH MEANS THAT WE'VE HAD HIGHER RENTS AND LESS VACANCY THAN ANY OTHER CITY. HOWEVER, RIGHT NOW, THAT HAS GROWN TO ABOUT 4, 4.5 percent. SO WE'VE SEEN A NUMBER OF SUBLETS COME ON THE MARKET, WHICH MEANS PEOPLE WHO NEED SPACE NORMALLY ARE TRYING TO SHED SPACE AND LEASE IT TO SOMEONE ELSE. SO WE'VE SEEN A LITTLE BIT OF THAT HAPPEN. HOWEVER, WE ARE STILL ONE OF THE LOWEST, IF NOT THE LOWEST, VACANCY RATE IN ALL OF NORTH AMERICA BECAUSE WE HAVE A VERY ROBUST TECH MARKET, ET CETERA. THAT DOESN'T MEAN OFFICE OCCUPANCY, OF COURSE. IT JUST MEANS PEOPLE WHO ARE RENTING SPACES. WE ALSO HAVE FORECASTED FOR TORONTO WE WILL SEE THE RECOVERY BY 2024 RATHER THAN 2025. AND WE WILL SEE QUITE A LOT OF RECOVERY BY THE FOURTH QUARTER NEXT YEAR. BUT STILL, AGAIN, THAT DOES NOT TRANSLATE INTO PEOPLE ACTUALLY RETURNING TO THE OFFICE, WHICH CONTRIBUTES TO HELPING PEOPLE LIKE JOSEPH. SO WHAT WE ARE DOING, WE'VE GOT A LOT OF PROGRAMS IN PLACE, GLOBALLY WE'VE DONE A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF RESEARCH ON THE PHYSICAL INTERVENTIONS AND BEHAVIOURAL PROTOCOLS TO PUT INTO PLACE SO PEOPLE CAN TRUST COMING BACK TO THE OFFICE. SO WE ARE PUTTING THOSE PROGRAMS INTO PLACE. BUT I THINK IT HAS TO DO WITH, OF COURSE, JUST BUILDING THAT TRUST, AND THAT'S THE ISSUE I THINK TTC IS HAVING. SO, YES, IT PROBABLY IS SPACE... PEOPLE IN CANADA ARE COMPLIANT, WE'RE WEARING OUR MASKS, WE'RE WASHING OUR HANDS. SO WE JUST HAVE TO LET PEOPLE FEEL THAT LEVEL OF SAFETY AND GET THEM BACK TO THE OFFICE PLACE.

Steve says GRANT, LET ME PICK UP ON THE ISSUE I HEAR ABOUT FROM LOTS OF PEOPLE, WHICH IS: IT'S NOT THAT THEY HAVE ANY LACK OF TRUST IN THE TTC AND THE SUBWAYS, THE BUSES AND THE STREETCARS AND SO ON, IT'S, WHEN I GET TO MY OFFICE BUILDING AND WHEN I HAVE TO WAIT ON THE GROUND LEVEL TO GET UP AN ELEVATOR TO GO UP 72 FLOORS, IT COULD TAKE ME 45 MINUTES TO AN HOUR AND A HALF JUST TO GET UP TO THE OFFICE IF YOU'RE ONLY ALLOWING FOUR PEOPLE IN AN ELEVATOR AT A TIME. HOW DO YOU GET AROUND THAT CONUNDRUM?

Grant says THAT'S AN INTERESTING QUESTION. I'VE SEEN THE MATH ON SOME OF THIS, AND I THINK TO SAMANTHA'S POINT, PEOPLE ARE GOING TO COME BACK IN A STAGGERED FASHION. WHAT WE'RE GOING TO FIND IS THEY'RE NOT GOING TO BRING EVERYBODY BACK INTO THE OFFICE AT THE SAME TIME. IT'S NOT LIKE YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE THE SAME NUMBER OF PEOPLE NECESSARILY GOING TO A FLOOR. ALSO, THERE'S A LOT OF CONVERSATION ABOUT WHAT I CLASSIFY AS MORE OF A TEMPORAL ASPECT FROM THE POINT OF VIEW PEOPLE ARE GOING TO HAVE STAGGERED HOURS. SOME PEOPLE MAKE A POINT OF GOING IN AT 7:00 EVERY DAY AND LEAVING AT 3:00, ET CETERA. THAT IS SOMEWHAT MORE MANAGEABLE. THERE ARE PROTOCOLS, VERY GOOD PROTOCOLS IN PLACE IN ALL THE MAJOR BUILDINGS WITH REGARD TO THAT. THEY HAVE A CONSISTENT PROTOCOL AROUND PHYSICAL DISTANCING FOR LINEUPS AND THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE ON THE ELEVATOR. I GO INTO THE OFFICE ON A REGULAR BASIS, I'M THERE AT LEAST ONE DAY A WEEK, AND IT'S... IT WORKS FINE, QUITE HONESTLY. THE NUMBERS ARE LOWER. THE NUMBERS I'VE HEARD ARE SOMEWHAT HIGHER THAN 2 TO 10 PERCENT. I THOUGHT WE WERE REACHING CLOSER TO THE 15 PERCENT MARK AFTER LABOUR DAY. BUT THE CONFIDENCE PIECE AROUND PROTOCOLS THAT WE'VE TALKED ABOUT BOTH IN THE OFFICE FROM SAMANTHA'S PERSPECTIVE AND IN THE PATH OVERALL AND ON TTC AND GO TRANSIT, ET CETERA, WILL BE A KEY DRIVER HERE. IT'S IMPORTANT FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW THAT THOSE PROTOCOLS ARE PLACE. PEOPLE WILL BE PLEASANTLY SURPRISED WHEN THEY COME DOWN AND RETURN TO THE OFFICE AND SEE HOW GREAT IT IS.

Steve says SAMANTHA, IF PROGNOSTICATIONS TURN OUT TO BE CORRECT AND TORONTO'S SITUATION IS IN FACT MORE BUOYANT THAN, SAY, THE REST OF THE WORLD... THE UNITED STATES, EUROPEAN UNION, AND SEE ON... SHE IS STILL ANTICIPATING THAT WE DON'T GET BACK TO APPROACHING NORMALCY UNTIL A YEAR FROM NOW, AND I GUESS I NEED TO ASK YOU, WHAT DO YOU GUYS DO FOR THE NEXT YEAR?

Samantha says WELL, THERE I GO BACK TO MY ORIGINAL POINT, QUITE HONESTLY, THAT I STARTED WITH, STEVE. THERE CLEARLY IS A GAP HERE THAT NEEDS TO BE FILLED AND THERE NEEDS TO BE TARGETED, SPECIFIC FEDERAL FUNDING FOR SMALL BUSINESSES, YOU KNOW, LIKE JOSEPH'S AND LIKE HOSPITALITY, ET CETERA, THAT RECOGNIZES THAT THIS IS BEYOND EVERYBODY'S CONTROL. WE'RE STILL MANAGING A HEALTH EMERGENCY, AND THIS HAS EXTENDED LONGER PROBABLY THAN ANY OF US EVER ENVISIONED WHEN IT STARTED BACK IN MARCH. AND THAT WILL BE ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL TO MAINTAINING THE QUALITY OF WHAT PEOPLE EXPECT WHEN THEY COME BACK. I MEAN, TORONTO IS VERY FORTUNATE. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT TRIPLE-A OFFICE SPACE, LIKE HIGH-QUALITY SPACE WITH GREAT AMENITIES. WE ARE WELL-POSITIONED IN THE GLOBAL MARKET. WE JUST NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT WE MAKE GOOD POLICY DECISIONS AROUND SUPPORTING SMALL BUSINESS RIGHT NOW, AND AS THE REGULARS COME BACK, THE TRADE WILL PICK UP.

Steve says JOSEPH, WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE OVER THE COURSE OF THE NEXT YEAR IN ORDER TO GET MORE FOOT TRAFFIC IN THAT BUILDING OF YOURS?

Joseph says I WOULD LIKE TO SEE OUR MAYOR SPEAK ABOUT THE UNDERGROUND PATH A LOT MORE. I'VE ONLY HEARD HIM SINCE JUNE SPEAK ABOUT IT ONCE. AND OUR PREMIER, WHOEVER, TO TAKE AND PUT A LOT MORE FOCUS ON THE UNDERGROUND SYSTEM, BECAUSE EVERYBODY IS WORRIED ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE THAT'S OUT AT STREET LEVEL AND THERE'S NO WORRY ABOUT WHERE WE ARE IN THE UNDERGROUND.

Steve says DO YOU THINK YOU'VE BEEN A FORGOTTEN CHAPTER IN THIS WHOLE DRAMA?

Joseph says WE'RE TOTALLY... WE'RE LIKE THE LOST CITY.

Steve says WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO GET YOU FOUND?

Joseph says PEOPLE HAVE TO SPEAK AND BRING IT FORTH ON THE NEWS, THE MEDIA, TO LET... AND LET THEM KNOW, AS HE SAID, THE PROTOCOLS AND EVERYTHING ARE IN PLACE DOWN THERE, SO YOU CAN'T BE IN A MORE CLEAN, SOCIALLY DISTANCED, BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS UP TO PAR IN THE UNDERGROUND FOR PEOPLE TO COME.

Steve says SO YOU'VE ARRANGED THINGS IN YOUR SALON TO MAKE SURE CUSTOMERS ARE 2 METRES APART AND ALL THAT BUSINESS.

Joseph says EVERYTHING. OUR CHAIRS ARE 6 FEET APART... THAT HAS ALL BEEN PUT IN PLACE SINCE THE END OF JUNE. NOW WE JUST NEED PEOPLE TO SIT IN THE CHAIR.

[LAUGHTER]

Samantha says I'M COMING, JOSEPH, I'M COMING.

Joseph says STEVE, I CAN HAVE ALL THE LYSOL WIPES AND ALCOHOL I WANT. BUT IF I'M ONLY WASHING ME DOWN, THAT'S NOT REALLY MAKING ME ANY REVENUE AT ALL.

Steve says NO, I GET YOU. SOMEHOW ALL OF YOU HAVE GOT TO BE ABLE TO CONVINCE... I'M NOT SAYING IT'S ALL ON YOUR SHOULDERS... BUT YOU'VE GOT TO CONVINCE PEOPLE THAT THIS IS A SAFE PLACE TO GO THAT THEY'RE GOING TO WANT TO GO TO TO TRY TO GET THEIR LIVES BACK TO NORMAL. THAT SALE HAS NOT YET BEEN MADE APPARENTLY. IS THAT FAIR TO SAY?

Joseph says YES, THAT'S FAIR TO SAY BUT A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT HAVE BEEN MANDATED TO WORK FROM HOME REALLY AREN'T SUPPOSED TO BE DOWN IN THE TOWERS EITHER, STEVE. I HEAR THAT FROM CLIENTS ALSO.

Steve says GOTCHA.

Joseph says SO IF THEY'RE MANDATED TO WORK FROM HOME, THEY'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE DOWN IN THE TOWERS. SO THAT'S OF NO HELP TO US EITHER SO...

Steve says SAMANTHA, DO YOU THINK COMPANIES SHOULD START TO ADVISE THEIR EMPLOYEES THAT IT'S NOW SAFE TO RETURN TO WORK?

Samantha says WELL, I DON'T LIKE TO USE THE TERM "SAFE," BECAUSE YOU CAN'T SAY ANYTHING IS 100 percent SAFE BECAUSE THE VIRUS IS INVISIBLE. HOWEVER, I DO FEEL THAT IF THEY IMPLEMENT THE RIGHT STRATEGIES, THE PHYSICAL INTERCEPTIONS, WITH A BEHAVIOURAL PROTOCOL, AND PEOPLE BUY INTO THIS, EVERYBODY HAS TO BUY INTO IT, THEN WE CAN PRODUCE OR CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT THAT REALLY MITIGATES THE RISK OF VIRUS SPREAD. SO WE'VE DONE THAT FOR OUR OWN TEAMS. WE ROLLED OUT THE RETURN TO OFFICE FOR CUSHMAN NATIONALLY AND WE WERE OUR OWN GUINEA PIG AND WE'RE NOW ROLLING THAT OUT TO CLIENTS ACROSS CANADA. AND IF PEOPLE FOLLOW THE THINGS THAT WE RECOMMEND, I DO BELIEVE THAT THEY CAN TRUST COMING BACK TO THE WORKPLACE. BUT, AGAIN, EVERYBODY HAS TO BUY INTO THE STRATEGY, BECAUSE ONE ROGUE PERSON WHO DECIDES THEY DON'T WANT TO WEAR THEIR MASK OR THEY DON'T WANT TO WASH THEIR HANDS ON A REGULAR BASIS OR THEY GET UP AND WALK AROUND AND ARE NOT SOCIAL DISTANCING, THEN OF COURSE THAT'S SORT OF LIKE THE ROTTEN EGG IN THE WHOLE DOZEN, RIGHT? SO I THINK THAT YOU HAVE TO HAVE THAT TRUST LEVEL THAT WITH ALL YOUR FELLOW EMPLOYEES.

Steve says GRANT AND JOSEPH HAVE ALREADY TOLD US THAT THEY HAVE STARTED TO GO BACK INTO THEIR PLACES THE WORK ON A MORE OR LESS BASIS. HOW ABOUT YOU? WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

Samantha says I'VE BEEN BACK TWICE. I WASN'T ON THE PHASE ONE LIST TO GO BACK, AND I ACTUALLY ASKED TO GO BACK AND MY OWN TEAM TOLD ME YOU'RE NOT ON THE LIST. WE'RE NOT GOING TO LET YOU BACK. BUT I'M ON THE LIST TO GO BACK IN JANUARY.

Steve says AND YOU ANTICIPATE THAT YOU WILL?

Samantha says I ANTICIPATE THAT I WILL. ALTHOUGH I WOULD LIKE TO WORK FLEXIBLY, WHICH IS WHAT WE'RE SEEING FROM A LOT OF PEOPLE, THAT THEY WOULD LIKE TO HAVE A MORE FLEXIBLE JOB STYLE. SO WHERE I DON'T WANT TO BE 100 percent EXCLUSIVELY FROM HOME, I DON'T WANT TO BE 100 percent EXCLUSIVELY FROM THE OFFICE EITHER. I WOULD LIKE TO GO IN MAYBE THREE DAYS A WEEK BECAUSE I DO FIND THAT, ESPECIALLY FOR PEOPLE MY AGE AND OLDER, THIS HAS PROVIDED A LOT OF WORK-LIFE BALANCE. SO OUR STATS SHOW THAT WE PREDICT AS MANY AS 30 percent OF PEOPLE WILL WANT TO CONTINUE TO WORK FROM HOME LONG TERM AND A GREATER NUMBER THAN THAT WILL WANT TO CONTINUE TO HAVE A FLEXIBLE WORK ENVIRONMENT. WE ALSO DO SEE THAT DUE TO PHYSICAL DISTANCING AND INCREASED CIRCULATION REQUIREMENTS IN SPACE TO MITIGATE THE RISK OF VIRUS, THAT WE WILL SEE DECOMPRESSION IN THE OFFICE SPACE. LET'S SAY BEFORE WE BASED OUR NUMBERS... IF YOU HAD 100 PEOPLE IN THE OFFICE, WE MIGHT ONLY SEE 70 PEOPLE IN THE OFFICE IN THE SAME AMOUNT OF SPACE LONG TERM. SO THERE WILL BE LESS DENSITY, WHICH WILL ALSO AFFECT THE DOWNTOWN ECONOMY. OFFSETTING THAT WE HAVE A NUMBER OF NEW OFFICE BUILDINGS THAT ARE BEING BUILT RIGHT NOW, SO IN THE YEARS TO COME, WE WILL SEE MORE DENSITY IN GENERAL IN THE CBD. BUT FOR A SHORT TIME I DO EXPECT THERE TO BE A DECLINE IN DENSITY.

Steve says WHAT DOES CBD STAND FOR?

Samantha says CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT. NOT MARIJUANA OIL.

[LAUGHTER]

Joseph says THAT WAS A DIFFERENT SHOW.

Steve says DIFFERENT SHOW, DIFFERENT ACRONYM. OBVIOUSLY THERE HAVE BEEN MANY TAKE-AWAYS FROM THIS PANDEMIC BUT ONE OF THEM SURELY WITH RESPECT TO HOW PEOPLE WORK, WE ARE DISCOVERING THAT MANY PEOPLE... I SHOULDN'T SAY WE... MANY PEOPLE CAN AND PREFER TO WORK AT LEAST SOME OF THE TIME NOW FROM HOME AS OPPOSED TO GOING IN TO WORK, YOU KNOW, FIVE DAYS A WEEK AS THEY USED TO, OR MORE IN SOME CASES. GRANT, I WONDER WHAT YOU THINK THAT MEANS... WHAT DOES THAT PORTEND FOR THE DEMAND ON OFFICE SPACE GOING FORWARD, FOR WHETHER EMPLOYEES ARE GOING TO COME BACK TO THE OFFICE IN THE NUMBERS THAT THEY WORKED PREVIOUSLY? WHAT DO YOU SAY ON THAT?

Grant says I THINK WHERE I WOULD LEAN TOWARDS IS THAT WE'RE PROBABLY GOING TO SEE A DEGREE OF CHANGE IN THE ECOSYSTEM OF HOW PEOPLE WORK. WHAT I MEAN BY THAT IS THERE WILL BE, AS WE HEARD HERE, MORE PEOPLE WHO WANT TO SPEND A DAY OR TWO AT HOME, WHO MIGHT NEVER PREVIOUSLY, QUITE HONESTLY. I THINK WE'LL ALSO SEE TO A POINT SAMANTHA MADE SORT OF A DEINTENSIFICATION OF OFFICES. THERE'S BEEN A HUGE, OVER THE LAST DECADE, SHRINKING IN THE SQUARE FOOT ALLOTTED PER EMPLOYEE, AND I CAN SEE US MOVING BACK TO PHYSICAL SETUPS THAT GO BACK TO ALMOST THE PRIVATE OFFICE ENVIRONMENT WHERE ACTUALLY YOUR PER SQUARE FOOT PER EMPLOYEE ACTUALLY GOES UP. SO THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE ON ANY GIVEN DAY MAY BE SOMEWHAT LESS THAN IT WAS, BUT THIS IS NOT A SITUATION WHERE WE'RE GOING TO FIND THAT WE'RE GOING TO BE RUNNING AT THESE LOW NUMBERS FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME. AS PEOPLE START TO COME BACK, WE'RE INTO SOME OF THE EARLY ADAPTERS NOW AND THEY'RE GOING TO BRING MORE PEOPLE WITH THEM, AS LONG AS THE ENVIRONMENT IS RIGHT, WE HAVE TO MAINTAIN THE ENVIRONMENT IN TERMS OF THE QUALITY OF THE EXPERIENCE BOTH IN THE OFFICES, WHICH WE'VE DONE, AND ALSO IN THE RETAIL ENVIRONMENT, MORE AND MORE PEOPLE WILL COME BACK, AND SO, YOU KNOW, I'M VERY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THIS.

Steve says JUST IN OUR LAST 20 SECONDS, GRANT, BEFORE THE PEOPLE COME BACK, BUSINESSES ARE GOING TO HAVE TO GET THROUGH THAT INTERIM PERIOD. WHAT PERCENTAGE DO YOU THINK ARE NOT GOING TO MAKE IT?

Grant says WELL, I CAN'T SPECULATE ON THAT. I MEAN, THIS HAS BEEN VERY CHALLENGING ON RETAIL AND HOSPITALITY. I THINK THE IMPORTANT THING NOW IS THAT WE HAVE TO FOCUS OUR PROGRAMS, YOU KNOW, FEDERAL PROGRAMS AND PROVINCIAL PROGRAMS, ON TARGETED INDUSTRIES LIKE THAT THAT WE KNOW ARE GOING TO REALLY, REALLY BE HIT HARD DURING THIS PERIOD OF TIME, AND MINIMIZE THE AMOUNT, YOU KNOW, IN TERMS OF DAMAGE TO THAT. BUT, YOU KNOW, WE'RE VERY POSITIVE THAT THESE ARE VERY ENT ENTREPRENEURIAL PEOPLE.

The caption changes to "Producer: Sandra Gionas, @sandragionas."

Steve says WE WISH EVERYBODY WELL IN THAT REGARD. JOSEPH, CAN I JUST SAY, I THINK WE DID YOU SOLID TODAY. IT SOUNDS LIKE SAMANTHA WANTS TO GET HER HAIR DONE AT YOUR PLACE. WE'LL HOOK YOU TWO UP AFTER ALL THIS IS OVER, OKAY?

Joseph says STEVE, I'D LIKE TO SAY THIS TO YOU BEFORE WE LEAVE. MAYBE THE TOWERS COULD THINK ABOUT GIVING PEOPLE A BREAK ON THE PARKING BECAUSE YOU WOULD ACTUALLY HAVE PEOPLE DRIVE DOWN TO THE SALON AND PARK. BUT WITH THE PRICE OF PARKING DOWN THERE WITH AN EMPTY PARKING LOT, THERE'S STILL NOT ANY TYPE OF BREAK ON PARKING FOR PEOPLE TO DRIVE DOWN TO OUR BUSINESS.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Steve says JOSEPH, ARE YOU SAYING 35 dollars FOR FOUR HOURS OF WORKING IS TOO MUCH? NO KIDDING. NO KIDDING. GRANT HUMES, SAMANTHA SANELLA, JOSEPH BENNETT, REALLY GOOD OF ALL OF YOU TO JOIN US ON TVO TONIGHT, AND SINCERELY, GOOD LUCK TO YOU ALL.

Joseph says THANK YOU, STEVE.

Grant says THANK YOU.

Watch: COVID-19 and the Hidden Office Economy