VICTORIA — Statistics Canada data shows the jobless rate in British Columbia dipped more than one percentage point in February and Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon says the B.C. economy is growing, but the Opposition Liberals say the government lacks a plan.
New data shows the number of people looking for work in the province fell to 6.9 per cent in February from eight per cent the month earlier.
A statement from the Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation Ministry says employment has been created in B.C. in each of the last 10 months and the province has one of the strongest economies in Canada.
As B.C. marks the first anniversary of the pandemic, Kahlon says 26,600 jobs were created across the province in February, boosting employment to 99.4 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
Opposition Liberal jobs critic Todd Stone wants to see a sector-by-sector jobs plan to create well-paid, full-time private sector jobs, saying more than 11 per cent of workers have quit looking for a job or rely on part-time wages.
Stone and Kahlon agree the tourism and hospitality sectors continue to struggle and Kahlon says people of colour are also enduring higher rates of unemployment, but he says B.C. is committed to assisting the hardest hit and sharing the benefits of recovery with everyone.
Statistics Canada reports the national unemployment rate fell in February to 8.2 per cent from 9.4 per cent in January, mainly due to the return of almost 260,000 jobs, the bulk of them in Ontario and Quebec.
The nearly 27,000 new positions created in B.C. were primarily filled by women and specific regions are also doing well, Kahlon says.
“In fact, employment in some parts of the province is above pre-pandemic levels. For example, Prince George is at 106.7 per cent and Kamloops is at 103.3 per cent," says the ministry statement.
The Liberal caucus statement instead claims NDP incompetence, pointing to a Canadian Federation of Independent Business report showing 88 per cent of B.C. businesses want the provincial government to come up with a specific plan to reopen the economy.
“One year into the pandemic, we have a bumbling government with no plan that is just hoping to ‘get lucky’ with the economy," the statement says.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 12, 2021.
The Canadian Press