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Employment Insurance, July 2016

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Released: 2016-09-22

Regular Employment Insurance (EI) beneficiaries in Canada totalled 575,200 in July, up 4.4% from the previous month. This unusual month-to-month increase can be explained by EI legislative changes that came into effect in July 2016.

While some of these changes affect all regions across Canada, eligible claimants located in 15 EI regions that posted significant increases in unemployment received additional weeks of EI regular benefits. More information on the 2016 EI changes is available on the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) website.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries
Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries

Sub-provincial overview

As a result of the changes to the EI program, historical comparisons are not recommended except in areas outside the 15 EI regions where eligible claimants received additional benefits. These 15 EI regions are Newfoundland and Labrador, Northern Ontario, Sudbury, Northern Manitoba, Southern Saskatchewan, Northern Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Southern Alberta, Northern Alberta, Calgary, Edmonton, Southern Interior British Columbia, Northern British Columbia, Whitehorse and Nunavut.

The analysis of regular EI beneficiaries for July was, therefore, focused on the census metropolitan areas (CMAs) outside of these 15 EI regions.

In Nova Scotia, Halifax reported 5,200 beneficiaries in July, little changed from June (-0.8%).

At the same time, in New Brunswick, the number of EI beneficiaries totalled 3,200 in Moncton and 2,800 in Saint John in July, both unchanged from June.

In Quebec, the total number of beneficiaries increased in each of the province's CMAs. Sherbrooke (+12.6%) reported the largest increase, offsetting declines in the previous month, followed by Trois-Rivières (+4.0%), Saguenay (+3.5%), Gatineau (+3.0%), Québec (+2.9%) and Montréal (+1.8%).

In July, the number of EI regular beneficiaries in Ontario declined in all CMAs unaffected by the recent changes to the EI program. The largest decreases were recorded in Oshawa (-23.8%), Kingston (-20.4%), Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo (-17.0%), Barrie (-16.2%), Guelph (-15.8%) and Ottawa (-14.4%).

In Manitoba, the number of beneficiaries in Winnipeg was down 6.3% to 7,200 in July.

At the same time, in Saskatchewan, the number of beneficiaries in Regina declined 7.8% to 2,000.

In British Columbia, the number of people receiving regular benefits in July decreased 4.2% in Vancouver, while it was little changed in Abbotsford–Mission and Victoria.

Employment Insurance claims

EI claims totalled 307,600 in July, up 33.4% from the same month in 2015. This unusual year-over-year increase in claims can be attributed to the recent changes to the EI program. Consequently, historical comparisons of total claims are not recommended.

The following analysis is based on initial EI claims received in July, which are not seasonally adjusted. As such, comparisons can only be made on a year-over-year basis.

According to ESDC, the total number of EI claims received in July included about 87,000 one-time automatic renewals related to the recent EI program changes. These accounted for almost a quarter of the total volume of claims in July and more than half of the total volume of renewal claims.

On the other hand, initial claims were less affected by the recent changes to the EI program. An initial claim is one for which there was no EI benefit period established previously.

Nationally, in the 12 months to July, the total number of initial claims was down 2.1% to 239,600. Declines were observed in most provinces, with the largest decreases in Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Ontario was the only province to post an increase in the number of initial EI claims (+20.0%). Part of the year-over-year rise in Ontario can be attributed to the relatively low number of claims in July 2015 for this province.

  Note to readers

Upcoming historical revision and availability of data by occupation

With the October 20, 2016, release of August data, the seasonally adjusted series of Employment Insurance (EI) statistics will be revised back to January 2000 to reflect the most recent seasonal factors. Additionally, a new postal code file has been used to update information on all geographical areas.

At the same time, information on EI beneficiaries by occupation, based on the 2011 National Occupational Classification, starting from January 2008, will be available in CANSIM tables 276-0042 and 276-0043.

Concepts and methodology

Regular EI benefits are available to eligible individuals who lose their jobs and who are available for and able to work, but cannot find a job. To receive EI benefits, individuals must first submit a claim. The number of claims provides an indication of the number of people who could become beneficiaries.

There is always a certain proportion of unemployed people who do not qualify for benefits. Some unemployed people have not contributed to the program because they have not worked in the past 12 months or their employment is not insured. Other unemployed people have contributed to the program but do not meet the eligibility criteria, such as workers who left their job voluntarily or those who did not accumulate enough hours of work to receive benefits.

All data in this release are seasonally adjusted. For information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

Data in the Daily text are rounded to the nearest hundred.

EI statistics are produced from administrative data sources provided by Service Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada. These statistics may, from time to time, be affected by changes to the Employment Insurance Act or administrative procedures.

The number of regular EI beneficiaries and the number of claims received for the current and previous month are subject to revision.

The number of beneficiaries is a measure of all people who received EI benefits from July 10 to 16. This period coincides with the reference week of the Labour Force Survey (LFS). However, initial and renewal claims data are for the entire month.

EI statistics indicate the number of people who received EI benefits, and should not be confused with LFS data, which provide information on the total number of unemployed people.

Geographical definitions

A census metropolitan area (CMA) or a census agglomeration (CA) is formed by one or more adjacent municipalities centred on a population centre. A CMA must have a total population of at least 100,000. A CA must have a population of at least 10,000. See Standard Geographical Classification 2011 – Definitions for more information.

Next release

Data on EI for August will be released on October 20.


More information about the concepts and use of Employment Insurance statistics is available online in the Guide to Employment Insurance Statistics (Catalogue number73-506-G), from the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Jeremy Weeks (613-951-1369;, Labour Statistics Division.

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