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BC and Alberta see largest surge in unemployment benefit payments

VICTORIA - The number of unemployed British Columbians receiving federal employment insurance payments climbed 26.7 percent between February and March according to preliminary figures Statistics Canada released today.

Across Canada the average gain was 10.6 percent, with the rise in B.C. behind only Alberta. In both provinces it was the largest one-month rise since StatsCan began keeping comparable data, a newsletter for the agency said.

Some 82,200 people in B.C., and 681,400 across Canada, received EI benefits in March.

Cranbrook and Kelowna saw the number of beneficiaries triple, while the number more than doubled in some 13 census areas, including Victoria and Vancouver.

Decreases in employment affected many sectors in B.C., including construction, manufacturing, trade, forestry and logging, and transportation and warehousing, the newsletter said.

Finance minister Colin Hansen, who yesterday reportedly waffled on how the economy will affect B.C.'s budget, was unavailable by posting time.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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