Manitoba leads the pack for lowest unemployment rate in Canada
WINNIPEG -- Job numbers are growing in Canada even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
The latest data from Statistics Canada shows job growth is on the rise nationally. Here in Manitoba, the province saw 12,000 new jobs in July. While this was lower than some other provinces, when it comes to unemployment, Manitoba is leading the pack.
In Manitoba, the unemployment rate went down to 8.2 per cent, the lowest in the country.
On Friday, Premier Brian Pallister celebrated the good economic news, but stressed the need to continue following COVID-19 health precautions.
"I would say we are not there yet and on behalf of those Manitobans who would like to get back to work – I think it is important to emphasize that," Pallister said.
This comes as Manitoba is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases, mainly in rural areas.
John Graham, the Retail Council of Canada's Winnipeg-based director of government relations, told CTV News the province could do more to boost consumer confidence when releasing COVID-19 data.
"One of the opportunities for Manitoba is to create greater clarity as far as where those cases are to alleviate that anxiety that has risen in recent days because of the higher case numbers," he said.
At CF Polo Park, where shoppers are regularly reminded of COVID-19 precautions, business is picking up
"We're pretty much operationally back to normal and we are seeing people come back to the mall and coming back for regular shopping," said Peter Havens, the general manager for the mall.
While the shoppers are starting to return, Havens said staffing the stores is still a challenge.
"I do believe that there are people still nervous about venturing into a public place like Polo Park," he said. "I think that's what is keeping some people from coming back to work"
To help keep job numbers growing, the province announced on Friday that it will be extending both the loan-for-businesses "gap program" and job subsidy program.
But when it comes to boosting consumer confidence and getting folks back to work, Colin Fast, the director of policy for Winnipeg's Chamber of Commerce, thinks support can go elsewhere.
"There's still a lot of money un-spent in those programs," he said. 'Really if you talk to businesses, the things they need help with most are paying rent and paying for COVID-19 health regulations."
Pallister said health and safety will be the key to Manitoba's economic recovery, and so the province will be launching a new awareness campaign next week focused on the fundamentals of curbing the spread of COVID-19.