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The Globe and Mail

Hard-hit B.C. labour market would be worse off without jobs plan: Bell

Canadian Pacific railway employees inspect tracks at the company’s Port Coquitlam yard east of Vancouver Dec. 4, 2012.

Darryl Dyck/The Globe and Mail

B.C.'s jobs plan is working, despite dismal employment figures provincially and nationally in March, said Jobs Minister Pat Bell.

On Friday, Statistics Canada reported 54,500 jobs disappeared across the country last month, pushing national unemployment up two-tenths of a point to 7.2 per cent.

The B.C. jobless rate climbed to seven per cent, a considerable boost from the February setting of 6.3 per cent.

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Bell confirmed 22,400 full-time positions vanished in B.C., offset by a gain of 7,500 part-time jobs, leaving nearly 15,000 people looking for work last month.

"I am worried when I see the kind of Canadian numbers that came out, and we are one of six provinces that saw job losses, one of four that saw larger job losses and it's all the big provinces," he said.

"It's more important now than ever that we have a good solid strategy in place and take advantage of the opportunities in front of us."

But Bell is standing by his government's job-creation plan, a key plank in the Liberal government's economic strategy, and he noted the plan is paying off in exports to surging markets such as China and India

The minister said he believes the province would be in much tougher shape without the jobs plan.

New Democrat finance critic Bruce Ralston had a different take on the figures, saying B.C. has fallen to ninth place in job creation across Canada since the jobs plan was launched in September 2011.

He questioned any positive results from the program and said a New Democrat government would put more emphasis on skills training to move the jobless back into the workforce.

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