US & Canada

Coronavirus Canada lost a record one million jobs in March

Toronto's Eaton Centre has concrete barriers in place at ground level entrances as only essential industries are open

Toronto's Eaton Centre has concrete barriers in place at ground level entrances as only essential industries are openImage copyright
Toronto Star via Getty Images

Image caption

In Toronto, the Eaton Centre mall is among the businesses closed as non-essential

More than one million Canadians lost their jobs in March, as the country locked down to combat the coronavirus.

The data, released by the federal statistics agency on Thursday, also pushes the unemployment rate to 7.8%.

March saw the largest loss of jobs in a single month on record.

Economists had been expecting the figure to come it at around 500,000 jobs lost, which already would have been the worst month for job losses on record.

There have been 19,290 confirmed cases in Canada and 436 deaths as of Thursday morning, according to figures from John Hopkins University.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Canadians that the figures, released by Statistics Canada, would lead to “a hard day for the country”.

“We’re facing a unique challenge. But I know that if we pull together, our economy will come roaring back after this crisis,” Mr Trudeau said in a televised address.

What do the figures show?

The report begins by saying that “measuring the labour market is not business as usual” for the end of March.

Between 15-21 March, an estimated 1.3m people were not able to work due to Covid-19, the government said.

An additional 800,000 worked half of the hours they normally would.

All together, approximately 3.1m people were affected either by job loss or reduced hours.

The country is now at its lowest employment rate since April 1997.

The jobs rate dropped in every province, with Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, and Quebec hardest-hit.

What has been the reaction?

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce released a statement calling the data “expected” and “historically bad”.

“Countless more jobs will be lost if we can’t urgently get employers the wage supports they need,” the groups said, warning that businesses were still weeks away from receiving any financial assistance.

Canada has already dropped interested rates and introduced the country’s largest-ever economic bail-out.

On Wednesday, chief executives of the country’s two major banks warned the damage could be worse than the 2008 financial crisis, and it could take longer for Canada to recover.

Under a government bail-out plan, businesses that have lost more than 30% of their revenue are eligible for a wage subsidy worth up to 75% of payroll.