Job losses rival early ’80s recession

OTTAWA — Jobs are disappearing in Canada at a rate not seen since the deep recession of the early 1980s, new figures show.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper (centre)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper (centre)

OTTAWA — Jobs are disappearing in Canada at a rate not seen since the deep recession of the early 1980s, new figures show.

Statistics Canada reported Thursday that Canada lost another 61,300 jobs in March, taking the unemployment rate up three-tenths of a point to eight per cent for the first time in seven years.

Since the peak in October, employment has fallen each month for a total of 357,000 jobs lost, representing 2.1 per cent of the workforce. That’s a pace of contraction greater than at any time during the 1991 recession and equalling that of the more severe 1982 slump.

In some ways, today’s job losses are even worse, CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld explained.

Compared to the early stages of the previous two recessions, the first five-month decline is roughly about three times the pace of deterioration.

“Obviously this is not good news,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said from Edmonton.

“On the other hand, this is the level of unemployment we were expecting in the budget. That’s why we’ve come forward with the kind of programs and dollars we have to deal with this problem,” he added, referring to the budget’s $40-billion over two years stimulus.

The only good news, said economist Douglas Porter of BMO Capital Markets, is that last month’s losses were not as “horrid” as in January and February, when 129,000 and 83,000 jobs were lost respectively.

“In many ways this report was absolutely a textbook case of what you see in the middle of a recession,” Porter said.

“We saw many deep declines in manufacturing, we saw deep declines in construction and we saw back-up in the unemployment rate.”

Harper used a community college workshop to announce a new grant program that will pay cash to Canadians who take apprenticeship programs.

The program, first announced in the last federal budget, offers apprentices up to $4,000 by the time they graduate, a significant increase from past grant programs.

“Demand for trades people, for skilled workers, still remains very strong in this country, notwithstanding the recession,” Harper told a news conference Thursday.

“Business knows that they are still going to need a lot of skilled apprentices and trades people and that’s in the very near future.”

Encouraging more apprenticeships will help Canadians weather the global recession because it improves both job prospects and earning potential, he said.

An estimated 20,000 people could benefit from the grant program, according to a government news release.

Apprentices can start applying for the grants in July, but the program is retroactive to

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s expansion project is still a high priority, says Alberta Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Interior work will start this year on Red Deer hospital project, says infrastructure minister

‘We are committed. This is a top priority,’ says Presad Panda

FILE - Premier Jason Kenney updates media on measures taken to help with COVID-19, in Edmonton March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Consistent pandemic policy has helped Alberta, premier says

Alberta fatality rate lower than Canadian average

The determined look of Terry Fox, as captured by artist Nathan Scott in his statue of the heroic Canadian cancer fundraiser. (File photo by BLACK PRESS)
Clearview Public Schools raise money through Terry Fox school runs

Terry Fox runners have been raising money for 40 years

Deng Mabiour appeared in person in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench on Wednesday afternoon. He is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Dr. Walter Reynolds, who was killed at the Village Mall Walk-In Clinic in Red Deer last summer. (Advocate file photo)
Trial of man accused of killing Red Deer doctor going ahead

Deng Mabiour is fit for four-week trial that is set to begin Nov. 22

FILE - In this Tuesday, March 10, 2009, file photo, former financier Bernie Madoff exits federal court in Manhattan, in New York. Madoff, the financier who pleaded guilty to orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme in history, has died in prison, a person familiar with the matter tells The Associated Press(AP Photo/David Karp, File)
Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff dies in prison at 82

Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff dies in prison at 82

A street sign along Bay Street in Toronto's financial district is shown on Tuesday, January 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
S&P/TSX composite slips despite energy sector jump; U.S. markets mixed

S&P/TSX composite slips despite energy sector jump; U.S. markets mixed

Diploma exams are optional this fall for high school students, the Alberta government said in a statement Tuesday. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Grades 7-12 students in Calgary shift to online learning for two weeks

Alberta Education approved a request this week from public and Catholic schools… Continue reading

FILE - Conor McGregor poses during a ceremonial weigh-in for the UFC 246 mixed martial arts bout in Las Vegas, in this Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, file photo. The UFC intends to welcome a capacity crowd at Las Vegas' T-Mobile Arena on July 10, 2021, when Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor fight for the third time. UFC President Dana White announced his plan Wednesday, April 14, 2021, for the promotion's first sellout show in its hometown since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.(AP Photo/John Locher, File)
UFC plans full Vegas crowd in July at Poirier-McGregor fight

The UFC intends to welcome a capacity crowd at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile… Continue reading

Juno Awards signage hangs in downtown Saskatoon on Thursday, March 12, 2020. Organizers of the Juno Awards say they've postponed this year's 50th-anniversary celebration until June 6 "out of an abundance of caution in response to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic." THE CANADIAN PRESS/Matt Smith
Juno Awards postpone 50th anniversary show date to June 6 amid COVID-19 pandemic

TORONTO — Organizers of the Juno Awards say they’re postponing this year’s… Continue reading

Infrastructure and Communities Minister Catherine McKenna rises in the House of Commons following Question Period Monday March 22, 2021 in Ottawa. McKenna is announcing a $1.5-billion program designed to spur green building through retrofits, upgrades and new construction. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal government unveils $1.5-billion plan to boost green building

OTTAWA — Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna has announced a $1.5-billion program designed… Continue reading

In this Monday, March 15, 2021 file photo a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is pictured in a pharmacy in Boulogne Billancourt, outside Paris.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Christophe Ena, File
AstraZeneca very safe, effective, with extremely rare risk of clots: Health Canada

OTTAWA — There is enough evidence to say the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine may… Continue reading

Demonstrators take cover from crowd-dispersal munitions from police outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department while protesting the shooting death of Daunte Wright, late Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Minnesota cop will be charged in shooting of Black motorist

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — A prosecutor said Wednesday that he will charge… Continue reading

Most Read