Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

B.C. Premier John Horgan provides an update on government measures in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on March 26, 2020.

CHAD HIPOLITO/The Canadian Press

British Columbia has lost more than 130,000 jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic and the province’s Finance Minister warns of further challenging loses ahead.

But as Carole James offered the bleak forecast on Thursday, Premier John Horgan said he expects the B.C. economy will rebound as the current wave of the outbreak ends.

“Although it’s dire today, we should be hopeful for the future, that when the opportunity presents itself, British Columbians will step up and we’ll get back to a healthy position,” Mr. Horgan told a news conference on Thursday.

Story continues below advertisement

Earlier in the day, Ms. James referred to data showing 132,000 jobs lost in March as part of a 7.2-per-cent increase in unemployment, charted by the new Statistics Canada labour force survey in March, from 5 per cent in February.

She told a news conference these are “early numbers” covering March 15 through 21, and the job picture will get worse.

“I do believe we’re going to see tougher numbers in the next round of statistics to come out. These are difficult times. It’s important we recognize that and provide the supports for people in businesses, who are doing everything they can to hang on through this crisis,” Ms. James told a Victoria news conference.

The Finance Minister did not provide any specific job-loss forecast.

The newly reported B.C. job losses are among a total of one million jobs lost across Canada because of the pandemic, resulting in a national 7.8-per-cent national unemployment rate.

Ms. James itemized the NDP government’s response to the economic challenges, referring to its “COVID-19 action plan,” which includes a $1,000 B.C. emergency benefit for workers and a three-month credit for affected BC Hydro customers.

A total $1.5-billion of the province’s $5-billion pandemic response program is budgeted for economic recovery, Ms. James said.

Story continues below advertisement

Separately Thursday, Mr. Horgan acknowledged a “massive uptick” in unemployment, but expressed confidence that the past strength of the B.C. economy bodes well for recovery once the “all clear” comes.

Mr. Horgan said he was bullish about the retail and tech sectors being ready to surge when that shift comes.

The Premier added it is his understanding from provincial Culture Minister Lisa Beare that Hollywood studios, which finance most of the province’s multibillion-dollar feature film and TV production sector want to resume their work in the province after a North America-wide production shutdown.

But other business observers in British Columbia are less bullish than the Premier.

Bridgitte Anderson, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, said the province’s diversified economy has helped in the recovery from past downturns. However, she said the province has a relatively high proportion of workers in food and retail sectors that have been especially hard hit during the pandemic.

Story continues below advertisement

She said there could be a point of no return looming for small businesses struggling to pay rent as bills accumulate, and the government needs to expedite the distribution of relief funds to them.

She also said that the 13-week cap on layoffs before effective termination, under the rules of the Employment Standards Act, should be extended further to allow businesses flexibility without facing the costs of termination.

In a statement, the executive vice-president of the Business Council of B.C. said the province may be doing better than its Canadian counterparts with new COVID-19 cases near a peak and the most confirmed cases reported as recovered.

However, Jock Finlayson said he expects real provincial GDP to fall by a “very sharp” 7.3 per cent largely in the second quarter of 2020, and the 2020 B.C. budget, which forecast a slim operating surplus, is “out the window" given last month’s support package, looming additional measures and provincial revenues likely to “drop like a stone."

“Compared to Ontario and Quebec, more segments of the B.C. economy are still functioning, albeit not at full capacity. That suggests the economic downturn here may be a bit less severe than in some other parts of the country. But it is early days so it’s hard to have much confidence on this count. And it is certainly too early to be offering upbeat assessments of where the economy is headed,” wrote Mr. Finlayson.

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies