EDMONTON -- Edmonton businesses are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many being forced to lay off staff and fighting to make ends meet.

The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce sent a survey to its members and collected about 1,000 responses between April 6 and 13.

Results show 60 per cent of respondents had layoffs during the second week of the pandemic, 4.8 per cent responded that they had gone out of business, and 58 per cent indicated that they may be forced out of business, by the time the pandemic has ended.

“I think I’d use the term ‘alarming,’” Chamber President Janet Riopel told CTV News.

“We’re just saying that week over week, this is getting worse.”

“Those numbers are scary but I don’t think they’re that far from the truth,” said Paul Shufelt, via Skype. Shufelt owns the Workshop Eatery and Woodshed Burgers.

Shufelt initially laid off what he estimates to be 70 per cent of his staff, but has now hired most of them back, as he switches his restaurants from dine-in to delivery and take-out.

“I think what a lot of small business people are going through is just the uncertainty,” said Shufelt.

Most businesses — 95.1 per cent — responded to the survey, reporting that they made payroll in the second week of the pandemic, but that number decreased to 86.5 in Week 3, with a further 16 per cent drop expected next payroll.

Businesses also reported using government aid programs, with 38.9 per cent using wage subsidies and 23.8 per cent benefiting from the Emergency Response Benefit.

Shufelt is among those who have applied for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA). The program provides $40,000 loans to businesses with payrolls between $50,000 and $1 million. Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that criteria would expand, from $20,000 to $1.5 million.

Trudeau also hinted that a program is in the works to provide relief to businesses that are struggling to pay rent.

“Help for landlords, commercial landlords, to help tenants is great because it takes the pressure off us a little bit,” said Shufelt.