BC Liberals: NDP continues to botch B.C.’s economic recovery

NUMBERS released by Statistics Canada on Friday show B.C.’s employment growth has stalled in January, with 41,700 fewer British Columbians working compared to pre-pandemic levels last February, say the BC Liberals.

“[Premier] John Horgan and the NDP are hindering our province’s economic recovery as they continue to fail small businesses in B.C.,” said Todd Stone, BC Liberal Critic for Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, on Friday. “Eleven months since funding was approved and five months since the program was announced, the fact that only $12 million of the $300 million Small and Medium Business Recovery Grant funding is in the hands of businesses today speaks to the NDP’s incompetence in getting funds out the door.”

Women and youth continue to be hugely and disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, with women losing 7,500 jobs since November — 1,900 in January alone — accounting for 26,900, or 64 per cent, of the total number of fewer jobs in B.C. today compared to February 2020. Young workers aged 15 to 24 are down 23,300 jobs compared with February 2020, and youth unemployment is at 16.8 per cent.

“As women and youth continue to face employment challenges, the government must foster an inclusive recovery to facilitate the re-entry to the labor market of these vulnerable groups,” said Stone.

In addition, tourism-related industries have suffered a net loss of over 52,000 jobs compared to February 2020.

“Many B.C. tourism operators, like our cruise ship industry, are being forced to remain closed for the entirety of the 2021 season and are going to feel the impacts of COVID all through 2021,” said Teresa Wat, BC Liberal Critic for Tourism, Arts and Culture. “With only a fraction of business grants making it out the door, these jobs numbers reflect that our tourism industry has been and will continue to be one of the hardest-hit throughout COVID. The NDP needs to do more to help our tourism industry survive these lost seasons.”

“We are nearly one year into the pandemic, and it is more important than ever that John Horgan come up with a jobs plan to restore the health of B.C.’s economy. Not doing so means workers, families and businesses will continue to pay the price of NDP incompetence,” said Stone.