Effective April 1, postings for provincial government jobs will open up to qualified people wherever they live in B.C.
Flexible work strategies — including work-from-home models and remote- location hirings being embraced by the B.C. public service — could have a catastrophic effect on Greater Victoria’s small businesses and overall economy, say concerned business groups.
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In a letter to Shannon Salter, head of the B.C. public service and deputy minister to Premier David Eby, six groups headed by the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce said new hiring policies to fill public-service ranks will harm local businesses that have long been established to cater to government workers.
Effective April 1, postings for provincial government jobs will open up to qualified people wherever they live in B.C., an initiative that in the future may see small government offices set up in more rural communities.
The 36,000-member-strong B.C. public service lost about 3,000 employees last year. Filling vacancies and expanding the talent pool is an “urgent issue,” Salter has told the Times Colonist.
But the business groups said the new strategy will come at a cost to Greater Victoria.
“We urge you to consider the potentially catastrophic domino effect that changing the nature of public sector work could have on the economy of our provincial capital,” the business groups said in the letter. “The proposal by the B.C. public service to disrupt its hiring practices will further reduce the number of workers in downtown Victoria and in our region as a whole.
“This decision has been made without consideration to the economic ecosystem that Greater Victoria has supported for decades,” the letter added. “These workplace practices were needed during the pandemic, but employers, including the federal government, are returning to the higher productivity and long-term benefits of having employees back in a well-designed workspace experience provided by downtown offices.”
The groups are urging the province to consider the implications the proposal would have on the stability of the provincial capital, where many businesses are still feeling the pinch of government employees working from home, and not eating in restaurants or supporting local shops.
“Many family-supporting businesses have been built on providing service to government workers,” the letter said.
The chamber said helping employers find and retain workers continues to be its top priority for most of its members and the community partners who co-signed the letter, including the Downtown Victoria Business Association, Destination Greater Victoria, Hotels Association of Greater Victoria and the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association.
“It’s a complex problem that affects many layers of our economy,” said the business groups. “Affordable housing and child-care as well as a sound regional transportation strategy are key to making regional economies such as Greater Victoria’s more resilient and sustainable. Your government is beginning to make real progress on finding solutions.”
But the new hiring practices have the potential to disrupt the public sector, which the chamber considers a cornerstone of the local economy that helps Greater Victoria support a world-class tourism and hospitality industry and a vibrant city centre.
Salter said earlier this month that embracing flexible work is essential to fill job vacancies and attract and retain a diverse workforce, noting that half of the public service is already working remotely.
The public service hiring strategy includes opening all job postings to anyone in the province and putting the onus on government ministries to explain why if they can’t accommodate flexible work arrangements.
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(Bloomberg) — China’s recovery gained traction in March, showing the world’s second-largest economy is strengthening after stringent pandemic restrictions were dropped and Covid infection waves eased.
In Europe, inflation excluding food and energy costs hit a record last month, reinforcing calls from several European Central Bank officials that more interest-rate increases are needed. In the US, however, core price pressures eased in February by more than forecast, which may allow the Federal Reserve to pause rate hikes soon.
Here are some of the charts that appeared on Bloomberg this week on the latest developments in the global economy:
China’s economic recovery gathered pace in March, with gauges for manufacturing, services and construction activity remaining strong, boosting the outlook for growth this year.
South Korea’s construction deals fell by a record margin in the fourth quarter as the property market cooled with rising interest rates weakening demand and inflation fueling costs.
South Korea is forecast to overtake China in spending on advanced chipmaking equipment next year in a sign of US export controls reshaping global supply chains for semiconductors.
Underlying inflation in the euro area hit a fresh high, handing ammunition to ECB officials who say interest-rate increases aren’t over yet. The rise to 5.7% in March’s core price reading, which strips out volatile items like fuel and food costs, came alongside a record plunge in headline inflation to 6.9% from 8.5% in February.
While Sweden sits between France and Switzerland in a ranking of dollar billionaires, many poorer Swedes have seen the gap between the haves and the have-nots widen dramatically in recent times. At the heart of Sweden’s woes is a dysfunctional housing market, which has not only cemented social divides, but exacerbated them.
A key gauge of US inflation rose in February by less than expected and consumer spending stabilized, suggesting the Fed may be close to ending its most aggressive cycle of interest-rate hikes in decades. Excluding food and energy, the core personal consumption expenditures price index climbed 4.6%, matching the smallest annual increase since October 2021.
Banks reduced their borrowings from two Fed backstop lending facilities in the most recent week, a sign that liquidity demand may be stabilizing. US institutions had a combined $152.6 billion in outstanding borrowings in the week through March 29, compared with $163.9 billion the previous week.
The biggest banking scare since the 2008 financial crisis will ricochet through the economy for months as households and businesses find it harder to gain access to credit. That’s the scenario facing the US after the collapse of three regional lenders, and a giant global one, over an 11-day span, according to several economists.
South Africa and Ghana each lifted rates by more than expected, and Thailand signaled more tightening is on the horizon. Mexico slowed its pace of hikes while Hungary’s resisted government pressure to start monetary easing. Colombia increased rates to a 24-year high and Egypt went ahead with a jumbo hike.
Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda changed the course of global markets when he unleashed a $3.4 trillion firehose of Japanese cash on the investment world. Now Kazuo Ueda is likely to dismantle his legacy, setting the stage for a flow reversal that risks sending shockwaves through the global economy.
President Vladimir Putin’s drive to expand Russia’s armed forces is adding to labor shortages as his war in Ukraine draws hundreds of thousands of workers into the military from other sectors of the economy. The total number taken into service is likely to have exceeded half a million, according to Bloomberg’s Russia economist Alexander Isakov.
—With assistance from Ruth Carson, Enda Curran, Alexandra Harris, Sam Kim, Masaki Kondo, John Liu, Michael MacKenzie, Reade Pickert, Chris Reiter, Zoe Schneeweiss, Mark Sweetman, Craig Torres, Alexander Weber and Anton Wilen.
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