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Employment Insurance, May 2018

Released: 2018-07-19

In May, 454,100 people received regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, virtually unchanged from April.

Declines in Alberta, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador were offset by increases in Quebec and Ontario.

In the 12 months to May, the number of EI recipients in Canada fell by 81,300 (-15.2%). Over the same period, the Labour Force Survey (LFS) shows that the unemployment rate declined by 0.7 percentage points to 5.8% in May.

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.

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

Provincial and sub-provincial overview

The number of beneficiaries in Alberta continued a downward trend that began in the fall of 2016, decreasing by 5.8% to 52,800 in May. Declines were observed throughout the province, led by the census agglomerations (CAs) (-8.7%). The number of beneficiaries also decreased in the census metropolitan areas (CMAs) of Calgary (-7.1%) and Edmonton (-2.4%). In the 12 months to May, the number of EI recipients in the province fell by 21,000 (-28.4%). Over the same period, LFS data show that the unemployment rate in Alberta declined from 7.8% to 6.2%.

In New Brunswick, the number of EI recipients fell by 3.2% to 26,900 in May, a sixth consecutive monthly decline. Decreases were led by the CMA of Moncton (-5.4%). On a year-over-year basis, the number of EI recipients in the province was down 16.0%.

The number of people receiving EI benefits in Prince Edward Island declined by 2.3% to 7,600, with decreases concentrated in the CAs (-4.3%). In the 12 months to May, the number of recipients was down 2.8%.

EI beneficiaries in British Columbia totalled 41,000 in May, down 2.2% from April. Declines were led by the CAs (-4.0%), with decreases also observed in the CMAs of Abbotsford–Mission (-4.0%) and Kelowna (-3.8%). Compared with 12 months earlier, the number of EI recipients in the province was down by 20.9%.

The number of people receiving regular EI benefits in Saskatchewan decreased by 1.7% to 16,900 in May, led by areas outside the CMAs and CAs (-1.8%). On a year-over-year basis, the number of EI recipients in Saskatchewan declined by 10.7%.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the number of EI beneficiaries decreased slightly (-1.0%) to 36,800 in May, primarily due to declines in areas outside the CMA and CAs (-1.2%). Compared with 12 months earlier, there were 6.1% fewer beneficiaries in the province, the fastest year-over-year decline since December 2014. Data from the LFS show that the province's unemployment rate changed little over the 12 months, and was 14.5% in May.

In Quebec, the number of EI recipients increased by 3.5% to 108,200. Gains were concentrated in the CMAs (+6.2%), led by the CMA of Ottawa–Gatineau (Quebec part) (+13.3%). In the 12 months to May, the number of beneficiaries in the province was down by 17.8%.

There were 119,400 EI recipients in Ontario in May, an increase of 2.1% from April. Gains were widespread across the province, led by the CMA of Kingston (+8.3%). On a year-over-year basis, the number of EI beneficiaries in the province decreased by 11.6%.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by province, April to May 2018
Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by province, April to May 2018

Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation

In the 12 months to May, the number of EI recipients fell in all 10 broad occupation groups. The largest declines were among those whose last job was in education, law and social, community and government services (-17.9%); business, finance and administration (-17.7%); trades, transport and equipment operators (-16.0%); as well as in natural and applied sciences (-15.7%). For the second consecutive month, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, and Alberta posted year-over-year declines in all broad occupation groups.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation, May 2017 to May 2018
Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation, May 2017 to May 2018

Employment Insurance beneficiaries in major demographic groups

Among both men and women, there was little change in the overall number of EI beneficiaries in May. Recipients increased among young men aged 15 to 24 (+7.0%), while they decreased among young women (-3.5%). A slight decline was observed for men aged 55 and older (-1.1%).

On a year-over-year basis, the number of beneficiaries declined in all major demographic groups, led by young women (-19.4%).

Employment Insurance claims

The number of claims totalled 226,600 in May, little changed from April. The number of claims provides an indication of the number of people who could become beneficiaries.

In May, claims fell in Prince Edward Island (-6.7%), Newfoundland and Labrador (-4.0%), Saskatchewan (-3.1%), New Brunswick (-2.4%) and Quebec (-1.8%). In contrast, there were increases in Alberta (+3.0%) and, to a lesser extent, Manitoba (+1.5%), Nova Scotia (+1.3%) and Ontario (+1.1%). There was little change in British Columbia.

In the 12 months to May, claims decreased by 1.2% nationally.

Chart 4  Chart 4: 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.

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 May 13 to 19. 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 June will be released on August 23.


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 Martha Patterson (613-299-3942; or Client Services (toll free: 1-866-873-8788;, Labour Statistics Division.

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