Ontario lost 153,000 jobs in April after imposing tough new lockdowns to control the spread of COVID-19.
The Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey (LFS) reported that the province was down 134,000 full-time jobs and 18,700 part-time positions from March.
Ontario’s unemployment rate grew to 9% last month from 7.5% in March.
Across Canada, there were 204,000 fewer employees in April with almost all job losses in the private sector, Stats Canada found.
Stats Canada says Ontario saw a decline in 153,000 private sector positions last month, and also a decrease of 47,000 public sector positions, offset by an increase in 47,000 self-employed workers.
The Doug Ford government brought in a new stay-at-home order in mid-April along with stronger public health measures and travel restrictions in response to spiking cases and overwhelmed hospitals.
Economic Development Minister Vic Fedeli said the third wave of the pandemic, driven by new variants, has created an unprecedented challenge for people and businesses across Ontario.
The provincial budget provides billions of dollars to roll out a vaccine program and to protect the economy, he said.
“We are not through the pandemic crisis and last month’s numbers remind us how important it is to stay focused on our plan to protect the health of Ontarians and their jobs,” Fedeli said in a statement. “But we can see light at the end of the tunnel.”
The three industries most impacted by lockdowns — retail; accommodation and food services; and information, culture and recreation — have seen their job numbers rise and fall with the easing and tightening of public health measures, Stats Canada says.
These three industries employ just under one-third of all private sector employees in the country.
“In April, the unemployment rate increased among both Southeast Asian Canadians (+4.1 percentage points to 13.6%) and Filipino Canadians (+1.4 percentage points to 6.3%), two groups where the proportion of workers employed in accommodation and food services is above the national average,” the LFS says. “The number of people working in accommodation and food services fell 59,000 (-6.4%) in April, largely as a result of losses in Ontario and British Columbia, where bans on indoor dining were re-introduced in late March and early April.”
The country saw 20,000 active businesses disappear in a year.