Construction of an office and residential building in Victoria in 2019. B.C. kept construction going during the COVID-19 pandemic and has avoided retail and restaurant restrictions seen elsewhere in Canada. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Construction of an office and residential building in Victoria in 2019. B.C. kept construction going during the COVID-19 pandemic and has avoided retail and restaurant restrictions seen elsewhere in Canada. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. unemployment rate climbs as COVID-19 drags on

Recovery stalled here, going backwards in Ontario, Quebec

B.C.’s net gain of 2,800 jobs in January is better than most places in Canada, but that’s a statistical blip as the overall unemployment rate rose from 7.2 to eight per cent, the Business Council of B.C.’s chief economist says.

“I think it’s pretty clear that the recovery process has stalled out here,” Ken Peacock told Black Press Media Feb. 5. “After the initial surge when things opened up to some degree, we saw the big bump, but I never expected it to continue, and I think we’re now at that time.”

Statistics Canada’s monthly labour force report contrasted B.C.’s positive results with big job losses in Ontario and Quebec as their COVID-19 spread prompted a shutdown of non-essential retail and other businesses. B.C. is hanging on, keeping restaurants and pubs as well as hair salons and other services open with public health restrictions.

RELATED: Canada’s unemployment rate highest since August

RELATED: B.C. extends COVID-19 restrictions through February

“The fact that we had a more nuanced and targeted approach that actually didn’t shutter non-essential retail or even restaurants, it definitely contributed to us having, not a strong jobs report, but much better than other parts of the country,” Peacock said.

Manufacturing and agriculture jobs are actually up in B.C. since January 2020, before the spread of the novel coronavirus from China forced measures that flattened travel and tourism-related business around the world.

“Our province’s economic recovery will not fully take hold until vaccinations have been fully administered, which is why it is critically important we do everything we can to prevent the spread of this virus,” B.C. Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon said in a statement on the monthly job numbers.

Nationally, the labour force survey found that Canada lost more than 210,000 jobs in January, bringing the unemployment rate to 9.4 per cent, the highest since August 2020. The January losses put Canada 4.5 per cent short of the employment level in pre-pandemic Canada last February.

Peacock said the delays in vaccination and the target to have most of the population immunized by next September means little short-term improvement for hospitality and tourism work.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureBC politicsCoronavirus

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

Just Posted

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

School District 8 is considering moving some programs out of Central School to make more room. Photo: Tyler Harper
SD8 considers moving Wildflower classes, REACH program out of Central School

The district says the building is set to operate over capacity in the fall

A emergency response team assisted the RCMP in apprehending a woman in Kaslo who was barricaded in her house on March 1. File photo
RCMP apprehend woman barricaded in Kaslo house

The woman had been writing threatening messages about taking hostages, police say

A byelection will be held on March 27 to fill the council seat vacated by Brittny Anderson, who is now the MLA for Nelson-Creston. File photo
Meet the Nelson byelection candidates at online forum

Event sponsored by Nelson at its Best will take place online March 11

Chief Paul Burkart of the Nelson Police Department will be pushed into Kootenay Lake on March 6 to raise money for BC Special Olympics and celebrate his retirement. Photo: Submitted
Nelson police chief to celebrate retirement with freezing plunge

Event is a fundraiser for BC Special Olympics

Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about phase two in B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization plan as Premier John Horgan and Minister Arian Dix look on during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. reports 438 new COVID cases, 2 deaths

Long-term care outbreaks are decreasing

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

Needles are seen on the ground in Oppenheimer park in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside on March 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’c chief coroner says increased drug toxicity responsible for record overdose deaths in January

165 people – the largest number of lives lost due to illicit drugs in the first month of a calendar year

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

Vancouver and Victoria both have a MySafe machine to help reduce overdoses

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

Dr. Amit Desai of St. Francis Hospital receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
B.C. has now vaccinated more people from COVID-19 than total confirmed cases

B.C. has reached a milestone, vaccinating roughly 1.6% of its population from the coronavirus

Nanaimo RCMP are looking for a suspect who smashed the window of an adult toy store and made off with more than $1,200 in merchandise. (File photo)
Vancouver Island sex shop out $1,200 in merchandise after suspect steals ‘colossal’ product

Suspect smashed window of Nanaimo store, cutting himself in the process

Most Read