Canada has come to a strange place, jobs-wise.
In this new and possibly temporary world, the country’s three largest metros — the engines of economic growth known as Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver — are among the worst places to find work.
Meanwhile, the major cities of long-struggling Atlantic Canada are economic fortresses, dominating the ranks of the cities that have suffered the least and lost the fewest jobs in the COVID-19 economic shutdown.
Watch: Canada reclaims nearly one million jobs lost in the pandemic. Story continues below.
In fact, in the latest issue of BMO’s Labour Market Report Card, Moncton, N.B., is No. 1 on the list of strongest job markets, in essence the best place in Canada for work. (See chart below.)
At 9.9 per cent, Moncton’s jobless rate in the second quarter of this year was far lower than the national average of 12.3 per cent. And it lost “only” 2.7 per cent of the jobs it had a year earlier.
Despite the oil industry bust-out, St. John’s is sixth in the ranking of 33 metro areas, while Halifax is in eighth place and Saint John, N.B., takes 16th.
Compare that to Toronto, which lost 13 per cent of its jobs and has a 13.6 per cent jobless rate while ranking in 19th out of 33 cities.
Montreal fares even worse, at 26th place in the rankings and with a 15.1 per cent unemployment rate. Vancouver sits in 29th place, having lost nearly 17 per cent of all its jobs.
So what’s going on?
Well it turns out, sometimes being left on the margins of a global economy has its benefits ― and a global pandemic is one of those times.
Atlantic Canada was less hard-hit by the virus than other places, and in some cases saw less restrictive lockdowns. Statistics Canada noted that New Brunswick, which has recovered 97.1 per cent of its lost jobs and is the only province with a jobless rate below 10 per cent, was the first province to begin reopening.
While the region depends on tourism, which has been decimated in the crisis, many of its other key industries ― such as food processing and fishing ― were deemed essential and kept running. There aren’t many “frivolous” businesses in the Maritimes, catering to the rich.
Of course, who knows how long this new reality will last. With the bills coming due on unpaid business rents, unpaid mortgages and deferred taxes, and with a federal deficit that’s growing at an explosive rate, Canada’s economy could look very different by the end of this year.
But whatever’s up next, we tip our hats to Atlantic Canada for winning the first round.