Canada’s “very, very disappointing” jobs numbers in July is a sign that the country’s manufacturing sector has lost its competitiveness, and Ottawa needs to step up its industrial policy to close the gap, BNN Markets Commentator Andrew McCreath urged on Friday.

“We need industrial policy in this country, and we need it badly,” McCreath said. “Since Mr. Trudeau was elected, how many times have you picked up a newspaper and read about the fact that the government is going to initiate a study on something?

“They’ve got to act now. They can’t just study for the next year-and-a-half or two years.”

Statistics Canada on Friday reported that employers slashed 31,200 jobs in July, making Canada’s unemployment rate edge up 6.9 per cent. The decline in employment was driven by a 71,400 plunge in full-time positions, the economy’s biggest one-month drop since losing 80,300 positions in October 2011.

In the U.S., employment increased more than expected, with 255,000 jobs added in July. Economists had expected a gain of 180,000 positions.

Meanwhile, a separate release showed that Canada’s trade deficit swelled to a record in June, despite weakness in the loonie.

McCreath said one of the key takeaways of Canada’s unexpected employment data is this country’s declining competitiveness in manufacturing.

“I just don’t believe we’re competitive – competitive compared to the States, and of course, Mexico,” he said.