The help wanted sign at a number of small businesses in Prince George and Northern BC are still up thanks to a large volume of job vacancies.

The province’s job vacancy rate leads the country at just below four percent equating to over 68-thousand unfilled jobs.

Regions like ours are caught up in this double-edged sword.

“So that is something to be a little bit concerned about on one hand it is the sign of a strong economy and on the other hand its a sign that small and medium-sized businesses are not finding the people they need,” says Richard Truscott, Canadian Federation of Independent Business BC Vice-President.

In a lot of cases, many people are electing to work for larger corporations due to the perception of more available opportunities.

However, Truscott adds this isn’t always the case.

“Obviously I would say this is a misguided belief, there are lots of opportunities within small businesses and lots of additional benefits to working in a small business like flexibility. I know that our members who are small businesses are very keen to provide the maximum amount of flexibility to its people.”

Another hurdle facing the small business community in PG and the northern region is the elephant in the room called the BC’s rising minimum wage, which was accelerated to $12.65 per hour on Friday by the NDP government.

Many people within the CFIB this is the wrong route to be taking when eliminating job vacancies.

“That’s not a good way to close this gap – that’s not a good way to close this vacancy gap by raising up the price of entry-level jobs forcing employers to pay more.”

“Certainly the minimum wage going up in such dramatic fashion is not helping the fortunes of small businesses, especially in the north where it’s been so difficult to find people and while a somewhat higher wage over time might help on the surface if those businesses can’t afford those large increases than that means those businesses will be pulling back,” adds Truscott.

Here is a breakdown of the job vacancy rate by province.

  • British Columbia – 3.8% with 68,100 unfilled jobs
  • Quebec – 3.7% with 103,100 unfilled jobs
  • Ontario – 3.2% with 163,100 unfilled jobs
  • Manitoba – 2.7% with 11,500 unfilled jobs
  • New Brunswick – 2.7% with 6,300 unfilled jobs
  • Alberta – 2.4% with 38,000 unfilled jobs
  • Nova Scotia – 2.4% with 7,100 unfilled jobs
  • Saskatchewan – 2.1% with 7,200 unfilled jobs
  • Newfoundland and Labrador – 1.6% with 2,400 unfilled jobs
  • Prince Edward Island – 1.1% with 500 unfilled jobs