The unemployment rate in Northeast B.C. was so low at the end of 2012 that Statistics Canada wasn’t able to apply a number to it.
Helping this phenomenon along was the addition of 300 jobs in the Northeast in December, according to the Labour Force Survey released by Statistics Canada.
“It’s a stable number, it’s very hard to build on the drop growth that we’re seeing and the number drops that we’ve had in the region already. It’s been such as strong part of the overall provincial economy,” said Minister of jobs, tourism and skills training and minister responsible for labour Pat Bell said.
Those local to Dawson Creek see the increase as a positive thing for communities.
“Anytime you’re seeing more jobs created in your area, I personally believe that’s a positive. As a council and as a community, we’re trying to make sure we’re open to business and that we’re trying to create more opportunities for investment and so when you see the numbers go up, more jobs being created in your area, that shows that you’re on the right track,” explained Mayor Mike Bernier.
Arthur Hadland, Director of Area C for the Peace River Regional District, isn’t surprised by the increase in jobs for December.
“There seems to be a lot of activity here. Three hundred jobs, the activity is going on [in] Tumbler Ridge. There’s construction activity, I think that’s to be expected when you have growth,” he said.
In British Columbia as a whole, in December of last year, the employment rate declined 0.3 per cent leaving the overall unemployment rate for British Columbia at 6.5 per cent.
For the Northeast, the rate of unemployment fluctuation was so small, that it wasn’t reported on by Statistics Canada.
“All the reports that I’ve seen have shown that once again, northeast B.C. is leading the province with record unemployment rates so low that stats B.C. is actually unable to give a number, said Bernier.
For the people of the region, they still seem to be in need of employment in many cases.
“The more I talk to businesses and companies in the area, they’re still telling me that across every sector right from the oil and gas to the hospitality industry, everybody is still looking for people and I guess that basically shows in the fact that as more people are looking for work, more people are coming to the community they’re filling those jobs that are vacant out there,” explained Bernier.
However, even with the creation of 300 more jobs in the region, the minister explained that there are some sectors that have been seeing a reduction in labour for December 2012.
“The gas sector in particular has been negatively impacted by low prices, that could be reflected in terms of overall jobs but the coal sector continues to do very, very well. Tumbler Ridge will continue to draw people into that area for employment. I think the Northeast is still very well positioned and should continue to perform well,” said Bell.
For the North, there has been a shortage of skilled laborers in the area and according to Bernier, there is still that need.
“When I look at the job search site, there are still lots of jobs in the area to be filled. Most of them in specialized trades but as people continue to advance their skills or get the training needed for those jobs, you’re going to see more jobs filled in our area.”
However, while an increase in jobs for December 2012 is a good thing, Hadland is concerned that the region and the province is not thinking ahead enough.
“Growth with stewardship is always positive, my concern of course is long term what are we doing to our water resource, I think number one and two is are we developing these resources in a sustainable manner, that’s my other concern,” said Hadland
He added, “We’ve got to look ahead not 10 years, not 30 years, but we’ve got to look ahead 150 [years] … the growth seems to be in the natural gas sector and I think that, that is a real opportunity not only for region but for province, but I am really concerned about a long-term strategy that incorporates secondary and tertiary utilization of our natural gas.”