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Unemployment pain spread unevenly across British Columbia

In November, 2007, some 130 people in Mackenzie were out of work and receiving Employment Insurance benefits. A year later the number had almost tripled to 380.

The figures are contained in a spread sheet provided to The Tyee by Statistics Canada. Province wide, as we reported last week, there were some 24.6 percent more people receiving EI payments in November than there were a year earlier.

But while many communities were close to the provincial average, the pain was felt unevenly across the province.

Oil and gas centre Fort St. John was at one end of the spectrum, with 18 percent fewer people receiving regular EI benefits than there were a year ago. At the other end was the beleaguered forestry town of Mackenzie and other resource centres. The number of recipients in the Cowichan Valley went up by 114 percent, in Houston by 83 percent, in Lillooet by 80 percent and in Bulkley-Nechako by 77 percent.

In the Lower Mainland, the growth was below the provincial average in Surrey (18 percent) and Vancouver (21 percent), and highest in Port Moody (50 percent) and Maple Ridge (67.9 percent).

Urban centres including Kamloops, Kelowna, Prince George and Victoria had increases of around 35 percent. Communities where the gains were 50 percent and higher include Duncan, Parksville, Courtenay, Vernon, Armstrong, Enderby, Salmon Arm, 100 Mile House, Port Hardy, Esquimalt and Langford.

Regular EI benefits are available to people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, are available and able to work, but can't find a job.

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

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