Friday July 10, 2020 ~ VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc. ~ West Shore Voice NewsE
Today Finance Minister Carole James delivered her current profile of the BC economy, now four months since the strategized lockdown of most sectors of the economy which began mid-March.
Hardest hit in BC is the service sector, and more specifically the tourism sector in the south Vancouver Island area.
There has been a total net loss of 235,000 jobs since the pandemic hit, said Minister James in her media availability this morning.
Unemployment rates are high:
“There will continue to be challenges,” said Minister James. The overall unemployment rate in June was 13% (far higher than where it was at 4% in February before the full pandemic impacts began). She notes that youth unemployment is at 29%, and that women needing child care support are facing challenges in getting back to work.
“Women are more likely to have lost their job due to COVID-19 than men,” says Minister James. The service, tourism and retail sectors which are hard-hit now in the pandemic are the sectors that generally employ a large number of women.
“The road ahead is a challenging one,” said James, as she itemized the monthly labour force numbers for June (a snapshot in the week of June 14 to 20) which she described as being “in the middle of the Phase 2 gradual reopening”.
Minister James said the numbers show signs of the province’s gradual economic restart, with more than 118,000 people finding jobs last month. Employment gains in May and June have recovered 40% of the total jobs lost since February.
Relief measures still in place:
“Still thousands of British Columbians and businesses are still struggling,” said James. She noted that people can still apply for the one-time $1,000 tax-free BC Emergency Benefit for Workers, with a count of over 600,000 people having already done so since the program was first announced on May 1, 2020. The program has been expanded to include British Columbians who lost their ability to work between March 1–March 14, 2020 (a period where the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit aka CERB wasn’t available).
“Relief measures for business continue to be open. Our COVID action plan is responsive and flexible. No one has a playbook for dealing with this pandemic,” she said, adding that things are being monitored “as we go along”.
For information on services and benefits available to help people and businesses through the pandemic, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/COVIDgovernmentbenefits
For non-health related
information, including financial, child care and education supports, travel,
transportation and essential service information, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/Covid-19
Or call 1 888 COVID19 (1 888 268-4319) between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. (Pacific time), seven days a week.