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

Rare white orca spotted hunting off shores of Alaska for first time

Tl’uk seems healthy and strong, says researcher

Mental health challenges add to youth stress load

Part 2 in a Black Press series on Youth Homelessness

Langford bike park rolling along to completion

New park a tribute to Jordie Lunn’s legacy

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Sooke Bluffs staircase closed due to rot

District to consider replacement for ‘high risk’ staircase in fall

VIDEO: Greater Victoria police officers try bhangra dancing with social media star

Gurdeep Pandher leads bhangra lesson on front lawn of the BC Legislature building

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs B.C. man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

VIDEO: World responds to B.C. girl after pandemic cancels birthday party

Dozens of cards and numerous packages were delivered to six-year-old Charlie Manning

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Hundreds of sea lions to be killed on Columbia River in effort to save endangered fish

Nearly 22,000 comments received during public review were opposed, fewer than 200 were for

Most Read