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OTTAWA: Canada shed 207,000 jobs in April, with a new Covid wave pushing the unemployment rate to 8.1 percent after starting the year on a downward path, the government statistical agency said Friday.

The losses followed gains in the previous two months, and were almost all in the private sector, according to Statistics Canada — dashing hopes that the economy had started to turn around.

The agency said both full- and part-time jobs were lost in April, mostly in industries directly impacted by new public health restrictions to slow new faster-spreading Covid-19 variants.

“The Canadian labor market was crushed again under the weight of another rise in Covid cases... and harsh restrictions,” said CIBC analyst Royce Mendes.

“With tightened restrictions in response to the third wave still in place to begin May, and some parts of the country requiring even harsher measures, more job losses could show up in the next report,” he added. “The good news is that the curve is bending in some regions of the country and vaccinations are picking up pace, both of which should help the labor market begin to recover in June.”

The 0.6 percentage point rise in the unemployment rate from 7.5 percent in March followed a decline to its lowest level since the start of the pandemic.

Job losses were recorded in retail; accommodation and food services; and information, culture and recreation.

Most of the losses were in Ontario, which is under a third government-ordered lockdown within a year, and westernmost British Columbia province.

The drop in employment was partly offset by gains in public administration; professional, scientific and technical services; and finance, insurance and real estate — three industries where activities can be performed remotely.

As a result, the number of Canadians working from home grew by 100,000 to 5.1 million.

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