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Employment Insurance, June 2017

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Released: 2017-08-24

The number of people receiving regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits totalled 517,200 in June, down 7,000 (-1.3%) from May. This was the eighth consecutive monthly decline in the number of beneficiaries.

Most provinces had fewer beneficiaries in June, notably Prince Edward Island (-5.5%) and Alberta (-3.3%). Decreases were also observed in New Brunswick (-2.0%), British Columbia (-1.9%) and Ontario (-1.8%). At the same time, Manitoba (-0.9%) and Saskatchewan (-0.9%) had slightly fewer beneficiaries, while Newfoundland and Labrador had slightly more (+0.9%). There was little change in Quebec and no change in Nova Scotia.

In the 12 months to June, 37,700 fewer people received benefits in Canada, down 6.8%. Most of the decline was accounted for by Quebec, Ontario and Alberta.

In general, changes in the number of beneficiaries can reflect a number of different circumstances, including people becoming beneficiaries, those going back to work, and those no longer receiving regular benefits.

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

Provincial and sub-provincial overview

The number of EI beneficiaries in Prince Edward Island fell for the second consecutive month, down 5.5% to 7,200 in June—the lowest level since June 2015. The monthly decrease in beneficiaries was observed throughout the province. Labour Force Survey (LFS) data show that employment in Prince Edward Island has been trending upward since the autumn of 2016.

In Alberta, 69,700 people received regular EI benefits in June, down 3.3% from May. This was the eighth consecutive monthly decline in the province, which has seen a downward trend in unemployment combined with an upward trend in employment. The decrease in June was spread across the province, including the census metropolitan areas (CMAs) of Edmonton (-3.0%) and Calgary (-1.2%). In the 12 months to June, the number of EI recipients in the province was down 14.9%. This was the second consecutive decline on a year-over-year basis and was partly attributable to the increased number of beneficiaries in May 2016, a result of the wildfires in northern Alberta and the evacuation of residents in that area.

The number of beneficiaries in New Brunswick fell for the fourth month in a row, down 2.0% to 31,000 in June. Most areas in the province had fewer people receiving benefits, including Moncton (-2.1%) and Saint John (-2.0%). In the 12 months to June, the number of beneficiaries in New Brunswick was down 9.3%.

In British Columbia, the number of beneficiaries fell 1.9% to 49,700, with the decrease spread across the province. Compared with June 2016, the number of EI recipients was down 4.6%. Over the same 12-month period, the LFS showed employment in the province increasing by 4.4%.

Ontario had fewer people receiving benefits in June, down 1.8% to 127,500. This was the third consecutive monthly decline in the number of beneficiaries. The province has seen a downward trend in EI beneficiaries since the summer of 2015, which may reflect improved labour market conditions, consistent with data from the LFS. Most CMAs in the province had fewer beneficiaries in June 2017, with the decreases ranging from 1.7% in Ottawa to 5.8% in Oshawa. At the same time, increases were recorded in Windsor (+4.5%) and Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo (+2.1%).

In Manitoba, 14,800 people received EI benefits in June, down slightly (-0.9%) from May. Declines occurred mostly outside the CMA of Winnipeg. The province had 2.0% fewer beneficiaries than it did 12 months earlier.

Saskatchewan also had slightly fewer people receiving benefits in June (-0.9%). Declines were recorded in Saskatoon (-3.7%) and Regina (-2.6%). The census agglomerations (CAs) also had fewer beneficiaries (-1.3%), while increases were observed outside the CMAs and CAs (+1.4%). In the 12 months to June, the number of beneficiaries in Saskatchewan was up 7.8%, the lowest year-over-year increase since January 2015.

After two months of decreases, the number of EI beneficiaries in Quebec in June was little changed at 129,400. The province has seen a downward trend in beneficiaries at the same time as there has been an upward trend in employment. Within the province, however, the CMAs of Sherbrooke (+2.6%) and Montréal (+1.1%) had more EI beneficiaries. Compared with June 2016, Quebec had 9.4% fewer beneficiaries. During the same period, employment grew by 3.0%, while the unemployment rate fell from 6.9% to 6.0%.

Following two consecutive months of notable increases, 39,800 people in Newfoundland and Labrador received EI benefits in June, up slightly (+0.9%) from May. Other than a small increase in St. John's (+1.3%), there were no notable variations in the rest of the province. In the 12 months to June, Newfoundland and Labrador had 14.6% more beneficiaries. During the same period, the LFS showed that employment decreased by 5.0%, while the unemployment rate rose from 12.0% to 14.9%.

In Nova Scotia, 27,300 people received benefits in June, unchanged from May. While Halifax had fewer beneficiaries (-3.6%), little change was recorded in the CAs, but an increase (+1.8%) was observed elsewhere in the province. In the 12 months to June, the number of EI recipients in Nova Scotia was down 2.1%.

Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation

Looking at EI recipients based on the last job they held, declines were recorded for 6 of the 10 broad occupational groups in the 12 months to June, mainly among those whose last job was in manufacturing and utilities (-14.6%), natural and applied sciences (-12.1%), and in trades, transport and equipment operators (-11.7%).

At the same time, there were more beneficiaries whose last job was in art, culture, recreation and sport (+9.3%), as well as in education, law and social, community and government services (+8.3%). Smaller increases were recorded for those who had last worked in management (+2.1%) and health (+1.5%).

Chart 2  Chart 2: Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation, June 2016 to June 2017
Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation, June 2016 to June 2017

Employment Insurance beneficiaries in major demographic groups

The monthly decrease in EI beneficiaries in June was spread across the major demographic groups, including young women and men aged 15 to 24 (-2.6% and -1.8% respectively), as well as core-age (25 to 54) men (-1.8%) and women (-1.1%). There were also slightly fewer beneficiaries aged 55 and older (-0.7%).

In the 12 months to June, more women aged 55 years and older (+6.1%) were receiving benefits, while there was little change for their male counterparts. In contrast, all other groups showed declines in beneficiaries, ranging from 3.8% for young women to 15.1% for young men.

Employment Insurance claims

Following a decline in May, EI claims rose 2.7% to 236,300 in June. The number of claims provides an indication of the number of people who could become beneficiaries.

Claims rose in six provinces, most notably Alberta, where an 8.0% increase in June followed a 5.5% decline the previous month. After the unusually large increases recorded in May 2016 (mainly driven by the wildfires in northern Alberta) and in July 2016 (partly due to legislative changes to EI eligibility rules), claims in the province have fallen markedly, coinciding with improved labour market conditions.

In June, claims also increased in Ontario (+3.8%), Newfoundland and Labrador (+3.4%), Nova Scotia (+3.0%), Quebec (+2.7%) and Prince Edward Island (+2.1%). On the other hand, they decreased in Manitoba (-2.9%) and British Columbia (-1.5%), while they were little changed in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.

Compared with June 2016, EI claims were down 1.3% nationally, with the decline driven by Alberta (-18.6%) and, to a lesser extent, British Columbia (-2.5%) and Manitoba (-1.7%).

Chart 3  Chart 3: Employment Insurance claims
Employment Insurance claims

Telling Canada's story in numbers; #ByTheNumbers

In celebration of the country's 150th birthday, Statistics Canada is presenting snapshots from our rich statistical history.

Unemployment and Employment Insurance claims

The main legislative purpose of the Employment Insurance (EI) program is to help Canadians re-enter the labour market by providing them with temporary financial support while they look for employment. Over time, the EI program has also been expanded to provide greater coverage for special benefits such as sickness, maternity and compassionate care. For more information on special benefits, see the Employment Insurance, April 2017 release in the Daily.

Despite various changes in EI concepts and rules, trends in administrative data on claims (from the EI Statistics Program) and survey data on unemployment (from the Labour Force Survey) can be followed over time.

Since the 1940s, increases in the unemployment rate have usually been reflected in more claims. For example, during the most recent labour-market downturn, the unemployment rate rose from 6.1% in 2008 to 8.3% in 2009. At the same time, EI claims rose by 20.7% to 286,500—relatively similar to levels last seen in the recession of the early 1990s, when the unemployment rate increased from 7.5% to 8.1% from 1989 to 1990, and EI claims rose by 14.9% to 307,900 during the same period.

Sources: For the unemployment rate, see "History of the Canadian Labour Force Survey, 1945 to 2016." Labour Statistics: Technical Papers (Catalogue number75-005-M) and CANSIM table 282-0002. For EI claims, see CANSIM table 276-0004.

  Note to readers

Concepts and methodology

The analysis presented here focuses on people who received regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits related to job loss. Claims data pertain to initial and renewal claims received for any type of EI benefits, including special benefits.

EI statistics are produced from administrative data sources provided by Service Canada and by 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 most recent series of changes were introduced in July 2016.

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.

EI statistics indicate the number of people who received EI benefits. The Labour Force Survey (LFS) provides estimates on employment and unemployment. 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 because 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 more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

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

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 June 11 to 17. This period coincides with the reference week of the LFS. However, claims data are for the entire month.

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 Employment Insurance for July will be released on September 21.


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).

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 Myriam Hazel (613-219-4345; or Client Services (toll free: 1-866-873-8788;, Labour Statistics Division.

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