Ontario's unemployment rate falls to 6.5 per cent; 37,000 net new jobs added

TORONTO – Ontario added 37,000 net new jobs in October, pushing the province’s unemployment rate down sharply to its lowest rate in six years.

Statistics Canada reported Friday that the unemployment rate in Ontario fell 0.6 percentage points in October to 6.5 per cent, bringing it in line with the national unemployment rate.

Ontario’s economic development minister said that’s the lowest rate in the province since October 2008 and a dramatic decrease from September’s rate of 7.1 per cent.

“Whether that’s up or down it does fluctuate from time to time, but that is a significant reduction,” said Brad Duguid.

“Don’t get me wrong, there’s still too many people out of work and we’re still going to keep working to ensure that those that are out of work find employment, but it does tell us that the numbers are going in the right direction in the province of Ontario. It tells us we’re doing something right.”

Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver said the drop of 0.3 percentage points in the national rate from the previous month shows his government’s plans for jobs and growth are working.

Nationally, the economy generated 43,100 net new jobs in October. Of the 37,000 net new jobs created in Ontario, 33,700 were full-time positions.

Duguid suggested provincial policies should share in the praise.

“We certainly take a hit when the economy goes down as governments, so I think when the economy goes up, I think we’re entitled to look at some of the policies we’ve put in place and perhaps take some credit for the environment we’re creating,” he said.

“(But) it’s the private sector, by and large, that creates the jobs. It’s our job, our responsibility, as a government to create a good environment for investment.”

Duguid said the numbers mark the end of a “good week” for jobs creation in Ontario. Premier Kathleen Wynne announced Thursday that Honda was investing $857 million in its plant in Alliston, Ont., with provincial taxpayers kicking in 10 per cent of the total cost. Duguid and the premier returned last weekend from a trade mission to China, where Duguid said the investments secured could create about 1,800 jobs “over time.”

Employment in Ontario increased 1.4 per cent since the same time last year, which is above the national average of one per cent.

The NDP questioned the government’s touted success on the job numbers, noting that in cities such as Windsor, London, Thunder Bay and Sudbury the unemployment rate rose in October.

“Windsor has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country (8.9 per cent) and the city took another hit with news that 1,000 jobs at the Ford engine plant will be going to Mexico,” NDP critic Wayne Gates said in a statement.

“The Liberals have failed to adequately address the province’s employment crisis and their austerity budget will only worsen the situation.”

Progressive Conservative Laurie Scott said the Liberal government discourages job growth with high payroll taxes, hydro rates and burdensome red tape, as well as its $12.5-billion deficit.

“(Businesses) don’t feel that job creation is going to be a strong point,” she said. “They want the government to get their fiscal house in order.”