Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Provincial and national unemployment rates climbing

British Columbia’s official unemployment rate rose to 6.7 per cent last month, up from 6.1 per cent in January, Statistics Canada reported today.

4,900 B.C. jobs were lost in February, the majority being part-time positions.

Across the country, employment fell for the fourth consecutive month. An estimated 83,000 jobs vanished, pushing the national unemployment rate up to 7.7 per cent, its highest level since 2003.

“This continues the downward trend in full-time employment observed since October,” Statistics Canada reported.

The construction industry accounted for over half of the national job decline, with losses also occurring in professional and scientific services, natural resources and educational services. The two industries that made gains were manufacturing and agriculture.

Ontario was hit hardest, shedding 35,000 jobs, while employment in Alberta fell by 24,000. Across Canada, an estimated 295,000 jobs have been lost since the peak of last October.

Some economists, such as the CAW’s Jim Stanford, have argued this is only the beginning of rising unemployment and that the situation could get much worse. In mid-January, Stanford wrote on the Progressive Economics Forum blog that:

The rise in unemployment during the recession “proper” in coming months is just the beginning of the labour market damage resulting from this crisis.

Unemployment will likely continue to rise for at least 2 or 3 years after the onset of official “recovery” — and the increase in the unemployment rate during this “recovery” will likely be larger than the increase in unemployment during the technical recession.

The rise in the unemployment rate is reinforcing calls for changes to Employment Insurance benefits.

The New Democrat Party passed a motion on Tuesday in the House of Commons calling on the Canadian government to make changes to EI by eliminating the waiting period, raising the rate of benefits, expanding eligibility for self-employed workers and reducing the number of required qualification hours.

“The money in the EI fund was contributed by workers and employers to provide support during economic rainy days,” said NDP Labour critic Chris Charlton in a press release. “It is raining. In fact, the monsoon season has arrived,” he said. “We have a moral obligation to restore the integrity of the Employment Insurance Act.”

Garrett Zehr reports for The Hook

Find more in:

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus