Last week, Statistics Canada’s jobs numbers for the month of July were released and did not exactly paint a rosy picture for our province. Despite the loosening of health restrictions, British Columbia lost 3,100 jobs throughout the month of July. For months, businesses and community leaders have been raising alarm bells about the many challenges they are facing and asking for a real economic recovery plan from government.
To say this has been a challenging year for businesses would be an understatement. As our province transitioned from the challenges of COVID-19 into a record-breaking heatwave and a forest fire season that is looking to be more devastating than any in recent history — combined with the impending threat of a fourth wave of COVID — it really feels like our communities are having every obstacle imaginable thrown at them.
For months, business and community leaders have been lobbying the government for greater supports and action to help them overcome the incredible economic challenges they have faced, and to help bring British Columbians back into the labour force. Now, as B.C. becomes the only major province to report job losses, it is becoming unfortunately clear that government has been more focused on creating excuses than a viable economic recovery plan.
Over the last several jobs reports, NDP spin doctors have been touting B.C. jobs numbers as a positive sign that their recovery plan is working, ignoring many of the warning signs that things in our province may not be as healthy as they would like to believe. While the NDP avoid the fact that most of our job growth remains in part-time jobs, B.C. continues to have 20,500 fewer full-time jobs compared to pre-pandemic levels.
Importantly, the job growth that has occurred has been inflated by the 104,000 public sector jobs the NDP have added since 2017, meanwhile B.C. continues to be down nearly 48,000 private sector jobs since before the pandemic. While many of these public sector jobs are necessary, they don’t boost our economic growth the same way our private sector jobs do and — at an annual cost of $10 billion to taxpayers — will certainly not help our province’s total debt of $87 billion.
Rather than try to fudge the numbers to pretend their plan is working, John Horgan should listen to our business and community leaders and address the issues that our affecting our labour force. Government should also offer our hardest-hit industries like tourism and hospitality the support they need to make a full economic recovery by making it easier to access business supports and grants. Finally, government needs to support our resource sector as opposed to a constant barrage of obstacles that do nothing more than drive investment away.
We all want to see B.C. make a full recovery, but to do that we need a real plan instead of excuses.
Dan Davies is MLA for Peace River North.