EDITORIAL: Region needs more jobs in 2017

Want a hot topic for 2017? Job growth. Or lack thereof.

Want a hot topic for 2017, one that’s sure to be front and centre during the provincial election in May?

Job growth. Or lack thereof. Or, fun with numbers, brought to you by the B.C. Liberals.

The B.C. government has been churning out news releases at an alarming rate these past few weeks. It may not be more than usual, but it sure seems that way.

One of the many we received last week was entitled “B.C.’s job growth set to continue into 2017.”

What we would like to see is some diversification in this region. The creation of part-time, seasonal, service-industry jobs is great, and they are the lifeblood of a tourism-focused area, but it’s tough to buy a house or a car or spread disposable income around on the salaries of those jobs.

Forecasters expect B.C.’s unemployment rate to continue its downward trajectory next year, to sit between 6.1 per cent and a low of 5.7 per cent, said the government news release.

The federal government’s numbers paint a different picture.

The Employment Insurance website of the federal government is predicting an unemployment rate of 9.5 per cent for this Southern Interior region in the next couple of weeks, as much as three per cent higher than the rosy numbers being touted by the B.C. government.

It’s time for a diversification kick-start from the provincial government. There’s no better time than a provincial election for political parties to talk about — dare we say promise — some solid job-creation plan for the region.

We would prefer to see some private-sector action, but, say, 50 high-paying provincial government jobs, a shift of a department or two out of Victoria, would be welcomed, too.

— With files from John Harding/Black Press