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Employment insurance benefits on the decline in B.C.

Fewer people are needing to claim the benefits, according to a report by Statistics Canada

Raj Hundal exiting the WorkBC office on Main Street. Photo by: Myra Dionne
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Reported by Myra Dionne

British Columbia has seen the highest decrease in employment insurance beneficiaries in the country which some experts attribute to a boom in the job market.

According to a new Statistics Canada report, the number of people receiving EI benefits in Canada fell in six provinces. B.C. led with a 5.9 per cent decrease. The report said that this continues a downward trend that started in October 2016.

Skilled work opportunities coming available

Raj Hundal, director of employment programs for WorkBC Employment Services Centre, said the labour market is strong in industries like manufacturing and customer service. He said a lot of new immigrants need help looking for employment and that they’re able to find them successfully through employment centres.

“There is work available. There is a lot of skilled work from what I’m seeing,” Hundal said. “We help people find work, not just in terms of a long term goal…we are able to assist them in, at the very least, in getting their medium goal met with the hope that we’re able to kickstart things that will help them land their dream job in Canada.”

Christine Buchannan, a program director for Open Door Group, an employment centre that has locations across B.C., said that employers are reaching out more to the centre looking for potential employers. She said many businesses are adapting and creating positions to cater to a changing market.

“There’s a lot more talking about customizing, carving positions and helping employers work within their HR needs in hiring people that maybe can’t or aren’t interested in doing the nine to five jobs,” Buchannan said.

Job opportunities are available due to housing costs

Giovanni Gallipoli, a UBC expert in economics and labour, said the major contributing factor to the decrease is the unemployment rate across Canada is going down. He said B.C. is doing particularly well because of the massive housing demand.

This is really skewed. Construction sector, real estate sector, all the services for the people who buy the real estate,” Gallipoli said. “This skewness is to me is a symptom of an economy that is not healthy. It’s imbalanced in its growth. It’s also too reliant on one specific source of demand.” 

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