Every Saturday, researchers from our Montreal, Quebec City and Ottawa Bureau of Investigation flush out the fake news, verify statements and find the real numbers.

-24%

This is the drop in jobs observed in March in the food and accommodation services sector in Canada. This represents 294,400 jobs.

It is the industry hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, according to Statistics Canada data that was measured the week of March 15-21.

During this period, the provinces recommended or ordered varying degrees of social distancing, such as limiting restaurant seating or preparing take-out meals only.

These figures could therefore increase the following month. The dining rooms were only closed on March 22 in Quebec, for example.

Declines were also noted in “information, culture and recreation” (- 13.3%), educational services (- 9.1%) and wholesale and retail trade ( – 7.2%).

The average decrease for the entire service sector is 6.3%.

241%

This is the rate of increase in toilet paper purchases compared to last year’s average for the week of March 8 to 14, according to new data from Statistics Canada.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said COVID-19 was a pandemic on March 11, including causing panic in some big box stores. Rolls of toilet paper, among other essentials, are gone.

Consumers have also rushed into several personal care products, which saw an impressive increase in sales that same week. Hand sanitizer (Purell type) tops the list, up 639% from the 2019 average. Next are masks and gloves (377%), facial tissue (253%) and cleaning wipes (231%).

Dry and long-life foods were also very popular: rice increased 239% from last year, pasta 205%, and canned vegetables 180%.

Finally, the most popular fresh products were eggs, up 63% from the 2019 average, potatoes (51%) and pork (49%). Frozen fruits and vegetables topped the list on the freezer side, with an increase of 117% and 129% respectively.

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