These groups were the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, B.C.'s finance minister says
VANCOUVER -- The economic impact is still being measured, but the B.C. government is already looking at which groups are being hardest hit by COVID-19.
At a news conference Wednesday announcing new options for the public to weigh in on the province's restart plan, Finance Minister Carole James said that everyone's been impacted, but some more than others.
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"The economic effects are felt differently based on your age, your gender, your income level and the sector that you work in," James said.
Looking at employment data, the minister said, it's clear which sector has suffered the most.
In 2008, it was real estate and finance. This year, it's the service sector.
She said 90 per cent of job losses have been in the sector, which includes retail, food services, accommodation and hospitality.
Among those suddenly finding themselves out of work are the province's lowest earners.
"The majority of job losses have happened to people who are making at (or) near minimum wage. That means young people and women have been the most vulnerable," James said.
The youth unemployment rate is at 29 per cent, she said, and about 60 per cent of people who've lost their jobs in the service sector are women.
Employment for men and women was up a bit in May, she said, but women are still 25 per cent more likely to be out of work.
"The effects haven't been the same for everyone. Our province has lost 314,000 jobs since February, and while we did see a little glimmer of hope in the most recent employment numbers, they don't come anywhere close to being able to address the job losses that people are experiencing," she said.
Rebuilding is going to be a "massive job," James said, but it also represents an opportunity to build on the province's strengths.
As it looks to restart the economy in stages, the province is asking for feedback from the public on what it's doing right, or wrong, and what the priorities are for the people who live in B.C.
"As we move forward to economic recovery, it will be important for us to take a look at the magnitude of losses throughout sectors, and to look at those who have been most affected," James said.
"It's too early to be able to calculate the full economic consequences of COVID-19, but we do know that the effect of this pandemic is as bad as any we've ever seen in the history of our province."