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Employment Insurance, November 2017

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Released: 2018-01-18

Regular Employment Insurance (EI) beneficiaries totalled 506,700 in November, down slightly from the previous month (-3,500 or -0.7%).

The number of beneficiaries in November fell in Ontario (-3.8%) and Quebec (-2.5%), while it rose in Manitoba (+4.0%), Saskatchewan (+4.0%), Newfoundland and Labrador (+2.4%), Alberta (+1.8%) and Nova Scotia (+1.4%). At the same time, there was a slight increase in British Columbia (+0.9%) and little change in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

In general, variations in the number of beneficiaries can reflect changes in the circumstances in a number of different groups, including those becoming beneficiaries, those going back to work, those exhausting their regular benefits, and those no longer receiving benefits for other reasons.

Compared with November 2016, the number of people receiving benefits fell by 70,100 or 12.2%. Nearly half of this decrease was attributable to Alberta. Following the EI policy changes that came into effect in July 2016, the number of beneficiaries in Canada was unusually high for the latter half of 2016.

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

Provincial and sub-provincial overview

The number of regular EI beneficiaries in Ontario fell by 3.8% to 128,300 in November, its lowest level since July 2001. The decline in November was driven by Windsor and London, the two census metropolitan areas (CMAs) that had experienced large increases in October against the backdrop of work stoppages and planned shutdowns in the automotive industry. However, among the province's 15 CMAs, 8 showed increases in November, ranging from 1.7% in Toronto to 8.5% in Thunder Bay. Compared with November 2016, the number of beneficiaries in Ontario fell by 7.5%, coinciding with an upward trend in employment and in line with data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS).

The number of beneficiaries in Quebec declined for a fourth consecutive month in November, down 2.5% to 122,000—the lowest level since January 1997, when comparable data became available. The decline was spread across the province. Among the CMAs, decreases ranged from 1.7% in Québec to 4.4% in the Quebec part of Ottawa–Gatineau. Saguenay was the lone CMA with little change. In Montréal, the number of EI recipients totalled 44,600, down 2.7% from October. In the 12 months to November, the number of beneficiaries in Quebec fell by 10.1%. As in Ontario, the downward trend in the province's beneficiaries has been consistent with LFS data showing higher employment combined with a falling unemployment rate.

In Manitoba, 15,900 people received benefits in November, up 4.0% from October. Virtually all areas in the province recorded increases, including the CMA of Winnipeg (+3.5%). Compared with November 2016, the number of beneficiaries in Manitoba was little changed.

The number of EI beneficiaries in Saskatchewan rose by 4.0% in November to 18,400, with the increase spread across the province. Both the CMAs of Regina (+7.2%) and Saskatoon (+4.3%) saw more people receiving benefits. On a year-over-year basis, there were 10.0% fewer EI recipients in the province.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, 39,400 people received EI benefits in November, up 2.4% from the previous month. Virtually all of the increase occurred outside the CMA of St. John's. Compared with November 2016, the number of recipients in the province rose by 3.6%.

Alberta had 63,500 EI recipients in November, up 1.8% from October. This was the first increase following 12 consecutive monthly declines, and it was driven by Edmonton, where the number of beneficiaries rose by 5.9%. Smaller increases were recorded elsewhere in the province, except in Calgary, where the number fell by 1.7%. In the 12 months to November, the number of beneficiaries in Alberta fell by 36.0%, the fastest decline among the provinces. Over the same period, the province's unemployment rate fell from 9.0% to 7.3%.

The number of EI recipients in Nova Scotia totalled 28,300 in November, up 1.4% from October. The monthly increase was mostly accounted for by the census agglomeration of Cape Breton (+3.7%). On a year-over-year basis, the number of beneficiaries in the province was down 1.3%.

In British Columbia, 47,000 people received benefits in November, up slightly (+0.9%) from October. Increases were observed in Kelowna (+5.1%) and in areas outside the CMAs. On the other hand, there was a decline in Vancouver (-1.1%). In the 12 months to November, the number of beneficiaries in the province was down 16.5%. Over the same period, British Columbia saw its unemployment rate fall from 6.1% to 4.8%, the lowest rate among the provinces.

Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation

In the 12 months to November, the number of regular EI beneficiaries fell in 9 of the 10 broad occupational groups. The declines ranged from 3.2% in art, culture, recreation and sport, to 21.6% in natural and applied sciences. A downward trend has been observed since the summer of 2017 for those whose last job was in art, culture, recreation and sport, and since the autumn of 2016 for beneficiaries who had last worked in natural and applied sciences.

Occupations in education, law and social, community and government services were the only group with an increase in beneficiaries in the 12 months to November (+3.6%).

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

Employment Insurance beneficiaries in major demographic groups

Fewer young (15 to 24) and core-aged (25 to 54) men received regular EI benefits in November (-1.8% and -1.0%, respectively). The number of beneficiaries was also down for women aged 25 to 54 (-1.4%). There was little change in the other groups.

In the 12 months to November, all major demographic groups had fewer beneficiaries, with the declines ranging from 3.3% for women aged 55 and older to 16.0% for core-aged men. The majority of the decrease for core-aged male beneficiaries was accounted for by Alberta and, to a lesser extent, Ontario and Quebec. The unemployment rate for core-aged men fell the most in Alberta, dropping from 8.8% to 5.7% over the 12-month period.

Employment Insurance claims

EI claims totalled 228,300 in November, down 1.6% from October. The number of claims provides an indication of the number of people who could become beneficiaries.

Claims fell in five provinces, led by Ontario (-7.9%) and followed by Prince Edward Island (-2.9%), Nova Scotia (-1.9%), British Columbia (-1.4%) and New Brunswick (-1.3%). At the same time, claims increased in the remaining provinces, led by Saskatchewan (+7.2%) and Alberta (+6.3%). Smaller increases were recorded in Manitoba (+2.1%), Newfoundland and Labrador (+1.6%) and Quebec (+1.0%).

In the 12 months to November, EI claims in Canada fell by 1.8%. This year-over-year decline was attributable to Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Employment Insurance claims
Employment Insurance claims

  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 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, and should not be confused with Labour Force Survey (LFS) data, which provide estimates of the total number of unemployed people. 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 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 November 5 to 11, 2017. 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 December 2017 will be released on February 15, 2018.


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 Marton Lovei (613-240-3623; or Client Services (toll free: 1-866-873-8788;, Labour Statistics Division.

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