Recent numbers from Statistics Canada show more than 10,000 people in the area were looking for work and unable to find a job last month.
Clarke said he is asking the federal and provincial governments for help with the area's unemployment rate.
“I’m planning on meeting with Minister MacKay and the premier in the very near future to have a discussion on how we can mitigate the pressures we're facing. We have communities with 35 to 40 per cent unemployment within that 17 and a half. In any other place that would be a state of emergency and a crisis and we're trying to avert a crisis right now economically,” he said.
Clarke said the region needs money from the provincial and federal governments to begin a five-year $300 million capital plan to stabilize the municipality's operations.
“We're very concerned about the impact not only on the economy but on the lives of the citizens that are affected and operationally within the municipality we have to address this,” he said.
Clarke said Cape Breton residents should be able to take advantage of big projects like the navy shipbuilding contract in Halifax.
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