B.C. Finance Minister Carole James speaks to economic impact of COVID-19 on the provincial budget, joined by Premier John Horgan and Education Minister Rob Fleming, B.C. legislature, March 17, 2020. (B.C. government)

132,000 B.C. jobs lost just the start of COVID-19 impact, finance minister says

Finance Minister Carole James says ‘this isn’t the entire picture’

The latest federal employment figures show 132,000 jobs lost in B.C. in March, but the actual impact of COVID-19 on the economy is much worse than that, Finance Minister Carole James says.

James commented April 9 on the increase to 7.2 per cent unemployment in B.C., which has led the country with the lowest unemployment of any province for the past two years. The results are from only the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, James said.

“And we know in fact this isn’t the entire picture,” James said. “Of note in the statistics that came out today, is that there are thousands of other British Columbians who are out of work, and would normally be seeking work right now, but they’re hampered in their efforts for various reasons related to the pandemic. Their sector has been shut down. Those people are in addition to the kinds of numbers you’re seeing today.”

James said B.C.’s job losses are similar to what is being seen across the country with COVID-19 restrictions. “We’re seeing a real drop in accommodation and food services, hotels, restaurants,” James said. “We’re seeing a drop in wholesale and retail trade, again no surprise, and a big drop as well in culture and recreation. That would include tourism, movie theatres, sporting events, arts and culture.”

RELATED: 94th Williams Lake Stampede joins line of cancellations

RELATED: Vaccine needed for life to return to normal, Trudeau says

Restaurants Canada described the B.C. impact in a letter to Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes, the B.C. Liberal critic for small business. Their survey of B.C.’s 14,500 food services businesses found that four out of five have laid off employees since March 1, and seven out of 10 expect further layoffs if business conditions don’t improve.

“Nearly one out of 10 restaurants have already closed permanently and another 18 per cent will permanently close within a month if current conditions continue,” said Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada vice president for Western Canada.

Oakes endorsed the small business sector’s call for “immediate rent and commercial lease relief from the province.

“Most of the current support programs offered by government amount to tax deferrals that last until Sept. 30,” Oakes said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Greater Victoria’s first BC Cannabis Store could open at Saanich shopping centre

Store application for Uptown Shopping Centre headed for public hearing

Bike lane closed, traffic impacted by landscaping in Metchosin

Construction begins May 25, to be complete by mid-July

MISSING: Victoria police on the lookout for woman last seen April 28

Leah Parker, 41, is described five-foot-five and about 140 pounds with brown/blonde hair, blue eyes

Victoria’s 75,000 veggie plants ready to find a home

New gardeners line-up for Get Growing Victoria

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

B.C. man with Alberta plates gets car keyed and aggressive note

Some out-of-province people are finding hostile reception due to COVID-19 worries

B.C. drive-in theatre appeals COVID-19 concession rules, 50-car limit

With 50 cars and the removal of concession sales, drive-in owner says theatre might have to close

COVID-19: B.C. grants aim to stabilize sexual assault recovery programs

$10 million fund not yet ready to take applications

Case of missing Vancouver Island woman inspires new true crime podcast

‘Island Crime’ Season 1 covers 2002 disappearance of Nanaimo’s Lisa Marie Young

B.C. mom’s drug-pricing petition on behalf of son garners thousands of signatures

Petition geared to gaining access to new medicines drew support of Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl

‘Paralyzed by fear’: B.C. woman details anxiety, grief at Italian relief hospital

Sheila Vicic spent two months in Italy as the country grappled with COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry given new name in B.C. First Nation ceremony: ‘one who is calm among us’

The provincial health officer was honoured in a May 22 ceremony at elementary school in Hazelton

Most Read