The Saskatchewan government says it is weathering the storm as the unemployment rate in Saskatchewan edged up in November.
Trade and Export Development Minister Jeremy Harrison said the province continues to have a low unemployment rate during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With a strong focus on growing exports as part of our economic recovery strategy, our economy will continue to move in the right direction in the weeks and months ahead,” Harrison said in a statement.
Statistics Canada reported Friday the unemployment rate rose 0.5 percentage points to 6.9 per cent, the second-lowest rate in the country. Nova Scotia had the lowest rate at 6.4 per cent.
The agency attributed the increase to more people looking for work as employment numbers remained relatively steady from the previous month.
The Saskatchewan NDP blamed the job losses, in part, on large infrastructure projects going to out-of-province companies.
“Before COVID-19 hit, that was already a significant blow to our economy. Right now, it’s downright reckless,” said the NDP’s labour critic, Carla Beck.
“Scott Moe needs to step up for Saskatchewan jobs, pick up the phone, and start pushing other provinces and the federal government to use Canadian steel on Canadian infrastructure projects.”
Beck made the comment a day after it was announced that upwards of 500 people will be laid off at Evraz steel mill in Regina.
NDP Leader Ryan Meili said those job losses are due to Moe’s “weak leadership.”
“This loss of hundreds of jobs is deeply regrettable, but it wasn’t inevitable. Four months ago I stood with Evraz workers in Regina and urged the premier to defend these jobs,” Meili said.
“Well, we learned this week that the premier didn’t even try, and now hundreds of Regina families are facing a bleak Christmas because of his weak leadership.”
Moe called the layoffs devastating and said officials are reaching out to offer whatever help they can.
StatCan reported 560,100 were working in the province in November, down from the 562,900 who were working in October.
The job losses were in part-time work as 1,500 full-time jobs were added last month.
Nationally, the unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage points to 8.5 per cent.
— With a file from The Canadian Press