7.2 per cent unemployment rate in B.C. doesn’t show the whole picture

Minister of Finance Carole James in the B.C. Legislature in February, 2020
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

While the latest unemployment figure for B.C. is 7.2 per cent, that doesn’t come close to telling the whole story about the impact COVID-19 is having on B.C., Finance Minister Carole James said during a news conference today, April 9.

“We are going to see tougher numbers,” James said. “These are very early numbers.

The numbers cover the period from March 15 to 21. The province declared its state of emergency during that week.

The numbers also do not reflect the fact that many people who lost their jobs at that time are not able to look for other work because their entire sector has virtually been shut down.

James would not estimate how high the unemployment rate will go but said it will definitely increase.

She talked about immediate relief for business in the form of deferrals of business tax payments until the end of September for things like employers health tax, provincial sales tax, tobacco tax, motor fuel tax and carbon tax and a 50 per cent cut in school taxes that will provide $500 million in savings for businesses.

Planning is underway for a recovery strategy with $1.5 billion set aside.

The three sectors that have been hardest hit are, not surprisingly, accommodation and food services, wholesale and retail and cultural and recreation which include tourism, entertainment, movies and sport.

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