Tough times in province - Metro US

Tough times in province

Two years ago, when Jazmyn Tanaka was pounding the pavement looking for work, her employment prospects were much rosier.

“It was much easier in 2007 to get a job,” Tanaka said. “I could just walk into a company and say, ‘Here is my resumé.’ They’d say, ‘OK, when can you start?’”

But that was before the recent global economic downturn that hit B.C. harder than most Canadian provinces.

Statistics Canada data from July has the number of people receiving employment insurance benefits in B.C. increasing by more than 47,000, or 104 per cent, over the past year.

Tanaka, 33, has been looking for work since August — housekeeping, care giving, hostessing, even security.

She has sent out hundreds of resumés, but has only gotten a handful of calls back. Those positions are usually gone before she’s interviewed.

Tanaka said she’s cut back to the bare minimum, giving up her cellphone, taking the bus and making use of organizations that help people with low incomes.

Cheryl Prepchuk, CEO of the Greater Vancouver Foodbank Society, has seen a 10 per cent increase in the number of people in food lineups in the past 10 months (families with small children have increased 11 per cent).

“The other area that is growing is first-time users,” Prepchuk said. “As companies downsize, restructure, go under, people who have never been in food lines before find themselves in food lines.”

At the same time, she said, donations to the foodbank are down 10,000 pounds (or about 0.1 per cent) from last year. Communities in resource-dependant rural B.C., she added, have been even harder hit.

Tanaka said she can’t go much longer without finding work.

“You need the job for housing … so without that job, everything else goes by the wayside.”

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