VANCOUVER - The B.C. Liberals have been banking on a jobs and economic growth platform to lead them to victory, but with four days left until voting day, the latest jobs statistics appear to fuel the NDP's claims that Christy Clark's jobs plan has not been as successful as she claims.
Statistics Canada said on Friday that British Columbia's jobless rate dropped six-tenths of a point in April to 6.4 per cent, while the province also gained 9,500 full-time jobs.
Statistics Canada also said B.C. experienced the second highest jobs growth in Canada last month.
Both the Liberals and the New Democrats scrambled to work the numbers to their advantage, as they head towards the end of the election campaign.
On Friday, the Liberals quickly issued a news release from Finance Minister Mike de Jong, saying the latest employment figures reveal the benefit of strong leadership and the risk of changing economic course when a program is working.
At a campaign event at the Port of Vancouver, Clark echoed de Jong's sentiments.
"We have a plan, and it's working," she said. "We need to stick to it because we are at a crossroads in British Columbia with two very different choices in front of us. Do we move forward with a clear plan to control spending and grow our economy and put us on a path to debt-free, or do we fall victim to $3 billion in of out-of-control NDP spending that will kill jobs, raise taxes and hurt families?"
Throughout her two-year term as premier, Clark has frequently rooted for a thriving private sector as the way to grow B.C.'s economy. But in its own media release issued Friday, the NDP said the province actually lost 10,800 private sector jobs last month, while all of the jobs that were created occurred in the public sector.
Clark told reporters the NDP's math is faulty and not something she could understand, but Statistics Canada confirmed the NDP's numbers.
"The 9,500 (jobs increase) were all in the public sector," said analyst May Roos in a telephone interview. "In fact, there was an increase of 19,100 workers in the public sector, offset by about 11,000 decrease in the private sector, and about 1,000 in the self-employed category."
The NDP also maintained that since Clark introduced her jobs plan in September 2011, the province has lost a total of 45,600 private sector jobs. Roos also confirmed that statistic, adding that workers in the public sector increased by 40,200 during this time, while self-employment also increased by 21,000.
The NDP also criticized Clark for frequently boasting that a Liberal government would reduce government spending and eliminate the province's debt when all of the jobs that were created last month were funded by the public purse.
New Democrat leader Adrian Dix wasted no time pointing fingers at the Liberals.
"We expect to have a better record than in the past number of years," he said during a campaign event in Victoria. "Losing 45,000 private sector jobs after you announce a jobs plan is not a record that deserves re-election."
Both Clark and Dix support resource-based industries, such as liquefied natural gas and forestry. Roos said there was minimal change in the natural resources industries in April.
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