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

Delta council approves plan to reopen city facilities

Next phase of plan includes outdoor pools, summer day camps, outdoor fitness programs

‘Racism, it destroys your soul’: Surrey man looks to youth for change

Roy Campbell explains his ‘unique perspective and experience’ as a biracial man who has faced racism

UPDATE: Missing 37-year-old woman has been found

Cheryl Brovold was last seen June 2 in the 15800-block of 96th Avenue

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

JUNE 6: ‘Pods’ set up at Surrey homeless centre; B.C. starts to see employment return

PHOTOS: White Rock Farmers’ Market ‘welcomes all vendors’

Relaxing pandemic restrictions mean full spectrum of vendors can return to uptown market: manager

Trudeau offers $14B to provinces for anti-COVID-19 efforts through rest of year

Making a difference in municipalities is a pricey proposition

‘Like finding a needle in a haystack’: Ancient arrowhead discovered near Williams Lake

The artifact is believed to be from the Nesikip period between 7,500 BP to 6,000 BP

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Importance of accurate, ethical reporting more critical than ever

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

Run for Water: Abbotsford man raises $100,000 running 100-mile marathon

Kevin Barata ran up and down Ledgeview Trails 32 times, exceeding elevation of Mt. Everest

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Indigenous chief alleges RCMP beat him during arrest that began over expired licence plate

Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam calling for independent investigation

Most Read