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Employment Insurance, March 2019

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Released: 2019-05-23

In March, 436,600 people received regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, down 4,400 (-1.0%) from February.

The number of beneficiaries decreased in Nova Scotia (-4.3%), Quebec (-3.1%), New Brunswick (-3.0%) and Prince Edward Island (-3.0%), while it increased in Manitoba (+1.9%). At the same time, there was little change in the five remaining provinces.

On a year-over-year basis, the number of EI beneficiaries in Canada decreased by 33,500 (-7.1%), with declines in all provinces except Manitoba, where the number of recipients increased by 2.7%.

In general, variations in the number of beneficiaries can reflect changes in the circumstances 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

In Nova Scotia, 25,300 people received EI benefits in March, a decrease of 4.3%. While a decline was observed in the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Halifax (-4.9%), most of the decrease occurred in the areas outside of Halifax and the census agglomerations (CAs) (-5.5%). On a year-over-year basis, the number of beneficiaries in Nova Scotia declined by 7.4%, with most of the decrease occurring since the end of 2018. According to the Labour Force Survey, in the 12 months to March, employment in the province increased, while the unemployment rate decreased by 1.2 percentage points to 6.2%.

Quebec had 100,400 EI recipients in March, a 3.1% decrease from the previous month. Declines were recorded in most of the CMAs, led by Sherbrooke (-6.2%) and Ottawa–Gatineau (Quebec part) (-5.8%). There were smaller decreases in the CAs (-2.0%) and the areas outside the CMAs and CAs (-2.3%). Year over year, the number of beneficiaries in the province declined by 7.7%, mostly due to a downward trend that began in the summer of 2018.

There were 27,700 people receiving EI benefits in New Brunswick in March, a decrease of 3.0% from February. The largest decline was in the CMA of Saint John (-4.5%). Compared with March 2018, the number of beneficiaries in New Brunswick decreased by 5.6%.

Prince Edward Island had 7,700 EI recipients in March, a 3.0% decrease from the previous month. Most of the decline occurred in the areas outside the CAs (-3.2%). On a year-over-year basis, the number of people receiving EI benefits in the province decreased by 4.5%.

There were 15,800 EI recipients in Manitoba in March, an increase of 1.9% from February. The CMA of Winnipeg (+2.2%) was the largest contributor to this rise. Compared with March 2018, the number of EI recipients in Manitoba grew by 2.7%, driven by occupations in manufacturing and utilities.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by province, February to March 2019
Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by province, February to March 2019

Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation

In March, the number of EI beneficiaries decreased in trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations (-1.8%) and in sales and service occupations (-1.6%), while there was little change in the other eight broad occupational groups.

Year over year, the number of EI recipients decreased in 9 of the 10 broad occupational groups. Declines were led by those who last held occupations in health (-13.5%), sales and service (-12.4%) and management (-11.8%). At the same time, there was little change in the number of EI recipients who had last worked in natural resources, agriculture and related production occupations.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation, March 2018 to March 2019
Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation, March 2018 to March 2019

Employment Insurance claims

In March, there were 243,900 claims, up 4.7% from the previous month. The number of claims provides an indication of the number of people who could become beneficiaries. Claims data pertain to initial and renewal claims received for any type of EI benefits, which includes special benefits.

The number of claims rose in all provinces, with the largest increases in Manitoba (+11.1%), New Brunswick (+9.5%), Prince Edward Island (+8.5%) and Quebec (+8.0%).

On a year-over-year basis, the number of claims rose by 7.2% at the national level, due in part to a relative low point in March 2018. The largest increases were in Alberta (+19.2%), Prince Edward Island (+17.2%) and Manitoba (+14.7%), with each of these provinces also having been near a relative low at the beginning of the period. There were smaller year-over-year increases in all other provinces except Nova Scotia, where the number of claims was little changed.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Employment Insurance claims
Employment Insurance claims

Sustainable Development Goals

On January 1, 2016, the world officially began implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development—the United Nations' transformative plan of action that addresses urgent global challenges over the next 15 years. The plan is based on 17 specific sustainable development goals.

Employment Insurance is an example of how Statistics Canada supports the reporting on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. This release will be used in helping to measure the following goal:

  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 paid 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 was 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 March 10 to 16. This period coincides with the reference week of the LFS. However, initial and renewal 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 centered 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 April will be released on June 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).

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 Rachelle Pelletier (613-415-4867;, Labour Statistics Division.

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