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)

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

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Kitimat RCMP are requesting assistance locating 24-year-old Teah Wilken, who was last seen getting on a bus at City Centre Mall in Kitimat around 6:30 p.m. Monday (Nov. 23). Kitimat RCMP Facebook photo.
Kitimat RCMP requesting assistance locating missing woman

Wilken last seen getting on bus at City Centre Mall in Kitimat around 6:30 p.m. Monday (Nov. 23)

The Nisga’a Nation activated its pandemic safety protocols Nov. 20 after a positive COVID-19 case in the Terrace area was identified. (Nisga’a Lisims Government photo)
Nisga’a Nation reverts to phase one pandemic restrictions

Tightening of precautions follows discovery of positive case in Terrace

Cases have gone up in Northern Health in the past week, as they have all over B.C. (K-J Millar/Black Press Media)
Northern Health reports new highest number of COVID-19 cases in one day

Nineteen cases were reported to Public Health last Tuesday (Nov. 17)

New COVID-19 restrictions forced the cancellation of the in-person portion of the second annual Festival of Trees event scheduled for Nov. 20 -21 in Terrace. (Pexels)
In-person event cancelled, online auction still a go for Terrace’s Festival of Trees

Dr. R.E.M. Lee Hospital Foundation was planning to host the event at Heritage Park

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

More than 70 anglers participated in the bar-fishing demonstration fishery on Sept. 9, 2020 on the Fraser River near Chilliwack. DFO officers ticketed six people and seized four rods. A court date is set for Dec. 1, 2020. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Anglers ticketed in Fraser River demonstration fishery heading to court

Sportfishing groups started a GoFundMe with almost $20K so far for legal defence of six anglers

Most Read