The British Columbia economy grew by 43,300 jobs in May, an encouraging sign says Finance Minister Carole James. However, she adds the economy still has a long recovery ahead of it.
The province continues to have a volatile labour market across every sector and in all regions of British Columbia due to COVID-19, she said.
“I’m pleased B.C. created 43,300 jobs in the month of May as people shift back into the labour market, but we have a long road ahead of us in our recovery,” James said. “Total job losses since the pandemic began stand at 353,200 and B.C.’s unemployment rate sits at 13.4 per cent. Behind the numbers, there are many thousands of families, young people and businesses struggling to make ends meet. That’s why we acted quickly to ensure supports are in place through our COVID-19 Action Plan and why we’re now focused on restarting our economy in a safe way.
To date, more than 510,000 people in B.C. have received the $1,000 BC Emergency Benefit for Workers, James said. The province has also worked with the federal government to expand the 75 per cent wage subsidy and protected the hardest-hit businesses from evictions.
“As more and more workplaces begin to reopen, there’s reason for increased confidence amongst consumers, which is critical to our recovery,” she said. “Despite COVID-19 impacts, B.C. is an economic leader in Canada. This, together with people’s exceptional co-operation in managing the health-care crisis, puts us on a solid foundation for economic recovery.”
She added the survey reflects job and employment information that was collected during the week of May 10 to May 16, before B.C.’s gradual reopening had fully begun.
“In the coming months we hope to see further positive results as our economic recovery begins to take shape,” James said. “We will continue to assess the needs of people and businesses through the coming months and build on the relief and recovery programs as necessary.”
BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson says the NDP needs to develop a long-term plan to ensure B.C. can bounce back from this major recession.
“The unemployment rate in British Columbia shows just how devastating COVID-19 has been on the people of B.C.,” he said. “We are facing a huge recovery challenge that’s going to need bold and brave action. We know at least 300,000 British Columbians are looking for work, which is why a plan is needed now. “
While the number of employed British Columbians grew slightly, more people were back looking for work because temporary federal supports will soon come to an end.
“Far too many people are still out of work in our province. Many businesses are at risk of closing their doors for good, so have to be worried whether there will be jobs for people to go back to,” added Wilkinson. “We have put almost thirty job creation proposals in front of the NDP to help workers and businesses, but so far almost all have been rejected.”
The BC Liberals have recommended the government give temporary breaks on sales tax and the employers health tax, help small businesses buy personal protective equipment, and provide help for restaurants and bars to safely reopen.