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B.C.'s economic recovery from COVID-19 unevenly distributed

Last Updated Mar 11, 2021 at 1:02 pm PDT

(Source: iStock)

Pandemic has been brutal for some economically, while others have never found themselves in a better financial situation

B.C. economist says government supports have shielded households from worst-case scenarios

Surrey Board of Trade says we need to ensure hardest-hit sectors also bounce back economically

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As we reflect on the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic a year in, it’s clear they have not been shared equally.

People working in some sectors are actually better off than before, while others have had their financial lives turned upside down.

There was clearly a big shock to the economy at the beginning of this, but economist Bryan Yu with Central 1 credit union says government supports, like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, shielded households from the worst outcomes.

“We shed a lot of jobs in that period, but of course over that time we’ve also seen this recovery phase as many of these measures started to relax. And as we’re heading into this 2021, more optimistic phase of the vaccine rolling out, we’re getting pretty close to where we were pre-pandemic,” Yu explained. “Employment numbers are about one per cent shy of where they were pre-pandemic in B.C., and a lot of the sectors have really been unscathed. We have areas from technology, professional services, really haven’t been hit. Real estate has been booming.”

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He notes people have also not been able to spend as much as they normally would on things like vacations, helping them set more money aside or put towards debt.

“Where the dramatic declines have been and remain are in areas like hospitality and tourism, where as long as the borders are shuttered, we really can’t get those sectors back to where they were,” he added.

The hospitality and tourism sectors have been devastated by the pandemic. Discover BC has said that it projects “tourism will recover in British Columbia back to the 2019 levels by 2024.”

A recent report has also showed that the country’s tourism industry is facing a crisis greater than the impacts of 9/11, SARS, and the global financial crisis — combined.

Support for hardest-hit industries

In Surrey, the board of trade says 30,000 jobs have been recovered over the past year, since pre-pandemic times.

“That means we still have a 9,000 job gap that still remains,” Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade, explained. “Surrey has fared really well. Many of our businesses, our industries were able to stay open — and that’s why we’re thriving. We have the greatest number of manufacturers in British Columbia that were still able to trade their goods.”

While the rebound to the economy has been impressive so far, Huberman wants to ensure the hardest-hit sectors also bounce back.

“We do need to focus on and support our very small businesses. Those industries that were hardest-hit — we can’t forget about them,” she urged.

Huberman highlights the importance of supporting women, too, noting they’ve been negatively affected at a higher level by the health crisis.

“We really need to focus on childcare — quality, affordable childcare — to ensure that women with families have full participation in our economy,” she said.