The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a major toll on the workforce in British Columbia.
In a press release issued from the B.C. Government on Friday, Finance Minister Carole James said that 353,200 jobs have been lost since the start of the pandemic. Despite major job losses, James feels optimistic as the province continues to reopen.
“The May labour force numbers show some encouraging signs amid a continuing volatile labour market across every sector and in all regions of British Columbia due to COVID-19,” said James in a press release.
She said that in the month of May, 43,300 jobs were created as British Columbians moved back into the work force.
According to James, B.C.’s unemployment rate now sits at 13.4%. Prior to the pandemic, the unemployment rate in the province sat at 7.2 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.”
James added that over half a million people (510,000) have received the B.C. Government’s financial aid – a one-time pandemic payment of $1,000.
“As more and more workplaces begin to reopen, there’s reason for increased confidence amongst consumers, which is critical to our recovery. 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,” said James in a statement.
Earlier this week, James suggested that unemployment numbers would remain high throughout the summer as the economy will take some time to rebound.
“Today’s 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.”
In an effort to help small businesses in the province, Minister James also announced this week that evictions would be temporarily banned in the hopes that more landlords apply for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program.
“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,” said James on Friday.
The province is currently in phase two of is COVID-19 restart plan and has yet to see any major setbacks in regards to new cases.