Stimulus cash bypassing high jobless areas

OTTAWA — Canada’s high jobless regions are losing out as billions in federal stimulus money flows into areas that have been spared the worst of the recession, an analysis by The Canadian Press suggests.

OTTAWA — Canada’s high jobless regions are losing out as billions in federal stimulus money flows into areas that have been spared the worst of the recession, an analysis by The Canadian Press suggests.

In six provinces, areas that benefit most from stimulus spending actually have unemployment rates well below the provincial average.

Stimulus dollars for British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have been poured into regions where workers have been faring comparatively well.

In three other provinces, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador and Ontario, the stimulus winners do have higher-than-average unemployment — but the favoured regions are still not the very highest in the province when it comes to jobless rates.

(Prince Edward Island has only one economic region, based on a standard Statistics Canada economic map, so comparisons within the province can’t be made.)

And the area that has seen Canada’s most serious deterioration in employment — the Cariboo region in the B.C. Interior — has seen no special treatment from the federal stimulus plan.

“We need to look at creating jobs. And I don’t see that happening,” said Robert Leclerc, president of the Quesnel and District Labour Council, in the Cariboo.

Mills in the region have been cutting back or shutting down completely, Leclerc said, and there are more large job cuts pending.

The aim of the federal stimulus program was to “support economic growth and employment this year and next while also bolstering Canada’s long-run productive capacity,” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said in introducing last January’s stimulus budget.