In the Labour Force Survey for January 2018, Statistics Canada said the Canadian economy saw 88,000 jobs lost during the month, an abrupt halt to the "stellar performance" that saw 2017 produce the biggest increase in jobs since 2002.
Job growth continues despite declining activity from the region's largest employer, the federal government.
At the same time the labour pool rose to 200,600 people last month compared with 196,800 in January 2017.
"The numbers that we're seeing this month. are part of a national trend", he told reporters.
The Conference Board of Canada's chief economist Craig Alexander said in a note that while some may speculate the provincial employment drop could be related to the new minimum wage, there is a lot of volatility in job numbers and time will tell to what extent the two are correlated.
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The overall result was dragged down by a loss of 137,000 part-time positions in what was the category's largest one-month collapse on record.
In the United States, there was a increase of 200,000 jobs in January and the unemployment rates was unchanged at 4.1 per cent.
But on the other hand, the agency said the economy generated 49,000 full-time positions last month.
"January saw an (88,000) drop in employment, reversing about half of the spectacular gains we registered late past year".
BMO chief economist Douglas Porter noted it was the first setback for jobs in Canada's job market in 16 months and Ontario was especially hard hit. Pay started to increase late summer and accelerated to as high as 2.8 per cent in November.
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Over that same period, the number of less desirable part-time positions declined by 125,400 or 3.5 per cent.
The January reading marked the end of a 13-month streak of job gains.
The labour participation rate, or the percentage of the population that is employed as opposed to employed or looking for work, improved by 0.5% over the past year to 60.3%.
It wasn't just Ontario that saw wage growth of more than 3 per cent. Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia recorded increases over that level, with the westernmost province's wages rising almost 4 per cent.
Average hourly wages jumped 3.3 percent from last January, the strongest since March 2016.
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Employment declines were seen across the field, from low-paying jobs in warehousing, retail and wholesale to lucrative areas of professional, scientific and technical services.