OTTAWA – Opposition parties are seizing on bad news on Canada’s employment front to urge the federal Liberal government to shift economic gears.
Statistics Canada says the economy shed 31,200 net jobs in July, a decline that included the biggest one-month drop in full-time work in nearly five years. The national unemployment rate inched up to 6.9 per cent in July from 6.8 per cent in June.
Conservatives and NDP members alike say the latest numbers have cast a pall over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s prolonged political honeymoon and say it’s high time the Liberals took action.
Conservative finance critic Lisa Raitt says the Trudeau government has failed to deliver the jobs it promised during the last election campaign.
She says the government doesn’t have a back-up plan.
The NDP, meanwhile, wants the government to bolster the employment insurance system and work to stimulate job growth.
New Democrat finance critic Guy Caron says the government has to cut taxes for small business, a promise that fell by the wayside in the first Liberal budget.
Raitt — said to be contemplating a run for the leadership of the federal Conservatives —cites a growing crisis of confidence as unemployment creeps up, along with bankruptcy numbers.
“Canadians have no reason to trust the Liberal government when it comes to Canada’s economy,” she said.
“The Liberal government claimed that if it borrowed tens of billions of dollars, it could grow the economy and create jobs. In reality, the Liberals have failed to deliver results for middle-class families and the Canadian taxpayer will be left to pay the bill.”
For his part, Caron said there must be easier access to EI benefits.
“In light of these significant job losses, creating a universal qualifying threshold of 360 hours and reinstating the extra five-weeks program for all seasonal workers is more critical than ever and would significantly help areas like Atlantic Canada.”
NDP jobs critic Niki Ashton urged the government to fulfil a campaign promise to offer EI premium breaks to employers who hire young people. That pledge also didn’t make it into the spring budget.
“The Liberals must immediately live up to their campaign promise to spur youth employment for millennials,” she said. “Young Canadians can’t wait for them to do yet more consultations.”
Raitt said the Liberals promised that tax changes to help the middle class, an enhanced child-care benefit and promised infrastructure spending would spur the economy, but that hasn’t happened.
“They should stop consulting and start making decisions.”