Just a few days before this week’s provincial election, as highly motivated voters were streaming in record numbers to advance polls, Statistics Canada released its Labour Force Survey for April.
Desperate to find some comfort in the Stats Can numbers, campaign-weary Liberals hailed the fact that the unemployment rate was a reasonably healthy 6.4 per cent compared to 6.7 per cent in September 2011, when freshly minted premier Christy Clark announced her “Canada Starts Here Jobs Plan.”
So much of the Liberal campaign had depended on voters swallowing a daily diet rich with Liberal job creation protein and replete with health warnings that an NDP administration would cause acid reflux.
It turns out the Liberal economic feast was a dish heavy on saturated poli-fats and shy on nutrition. In the wake of the election, these servings of high caloric economic good news have been moved to the side board and we are left to chew on the factual bare bones.
Stats Can tells us the province re-constructed by the campaigning Liberals was definitely not “number one” in job creation in Canada on the day we marched to the polls. In fact, it is not at the top of the class in any employment measurement used by Stats Can. B.C.’s unemployment rate is the highest of all the Western provinces. And, B.C.’s labour force has hardly grown at all. In fact, a yeoman analysis by Gemini Award-winning Sun Media National Bureau Chief David Akin indicates that B.C. is dead last among all provinces when it comes to the rate of growth of its labour force in the last 17 months since the Jobs Plan was introduced with such fanfare.
Here’s the truth about our economic journey since the Jobs Plan was announced: B.C. trails Ontario, Alberta, Quebec and Saskatchewan in total number of jobs created; the only job growth has been 42,000 public sector jobs and 21,000 self-employed jobs; B.C. lost more than 45,000 private sector jobs; total full-time and part-time jobs have grown by just 0.77 per cent over 17 months with only Manitoba and New Brunswick doing worse while Saskatchewan was first with 4.77 per cent job growth.
I have discovered a few more nuggets since 8:01pm Tuesday. Even before Clark took command of the Liberal Party, the jobs numbers were uninspired. For example, the influx of temporary foreign workers (70,000) exceeded the net number of jobs created (52,000) between 2008 and 2011 and, on the Liberal watch, 30,000 forestry jobs were lost in B.C. and 70 mills closed.
Here’s the bottom line: in the unbearably long run up to this week’s election, we were fed an inordinate amount of propaganda from Christy Clark and the Liberals about their fiscal and economic stewardship. That included a budget that pretended to be balanced. It continued with an assertion that B.C. is on the path to debt freedom when, in fact, we owe the global money lenders more than $60 billion. It carried on with the assertion that free enterprise growth in B.C. is anchoring western prosperity.
In the days to come, the next government will be sworn in. A new cabinet will takes its place in the West Wing of the Legislature and it will open the books for a hard look at the real state of play.
Will it be too much to hope for a little honesty? M