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Employment Insurance, July 2021

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Released: 2021-09-23

The number of Canadians receiving regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits dropped by 38,000 (-2.4%) in July to 1.5 million. British Columbia, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick accounted for most of the decrease.

July EI statistics reflect labour market conditions during the week of July 11 to 17.

In Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, all public health measures—aside from some masking and screening requirements in select settings—were lifted on or before the start of the reference week. All regions of Quebec moved into the lowest level of restrictions on June 28 and retail capacity limits were lifted on July 12.

In Ontario, most restrictions on indoor dining and recreational activities were lifted toward the end of the reference week, on July 16. In Manitoba, personal care services and restaurants reopened at the end of June, and capacity limits on restaurants, gyms, and retail stores were further eased on July 17.

Fewer Canadians collect regular EI benefits in July

Approximately 1.5 million Canadians received regular EI benefits in July, down by 38,000 (-2.4%) from a month earlier.

According to the Labour Force Survey (LFS), employment rose by 94,000 in July. Unemployment fell to 1.5 million, including 1.4 million Canadians who were looking for work, and 100,000 who had a connection to a job, either because they were on temporary layoff or had arrangements to begin a new job in the near future.

The proportion of regular EI beneficiaries qualifying under the new rules down in most provinces

In late September 2020, temporary changes to the EI program, including a reduction in the number of required insured hours, were introduced to increase EI eligibility. In July 2021, the proportion of regular EI recipients qualifying for EI under these new eligibility rules fell in most provinces, led by Prince Edward Island (-2.3 percentage points) and New Brunswick (-1.7 percentage points) (not seasonally adjusted).

Newfoundland and Labrador (22.8%) and Quebec (20.1%) had the highest share of regular EI beneficiaries qualifying for EI under the new rules, while Alberta (13.0%) had the lowest (not seasonally adjusted).

Chart 1  Chart 1: The proportion of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries qualifying under the new rules down in most provinces (not seasonally adjusted)
The proportion of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries qualifying under the new rules down in most provinces (not seasonally adjusted)

The number of regular EI beneficiaries decreases in five provinces

In July, the number of regular EI beneficiaries fell in five provinces, led by British Columbia (-21,000; -11.2%), Nova Scotia (-12,000; -16.7%) and New Brunswick (-12,000; -15.9%). British Columbia accounted for more than half (54.9%) of the monthly decrease in total regular EI beneficiaries. According to July LFS results, British Columbia was the lone province with employment above its pre-pandemic level.

At the same time, there were more regular EI beneficiaries in Quebec (+18,000; +5.6%), Newfoundland and Labrador (+800; +1.4%) and Saskatchewan (+400; +1.1%), and little change in Ontario and Manitoba.

On a regional basis, the census metropolitan areas of Vancouver (-17,000; -17.5%) and Halifax (-4,000; -18.2%) accounted for 56.6% of the monthly decrease in regular EI recipients.

One-third of regular EI recipients last worked in industries providing in-person services

In July, one-third (33.2%) of regular EI recipients last worked in one of four industries involved in providing in-person services: 13.8% in accommodation and food services; 10.8% in retail trade; 4.6% in other services; and 4.0% in information, culture and recreation (not seasonally adjusted). Illustrating the impact of easing public health measures over the course of the summer, the number of EI recipients who last worked in these industries was 22.7% lower (-150,000) in July than in May (not seasonally adjusted). LFS results showed that the gap between current and pre-COVID employment levels narrowed in these same industries to 416,000 in July, compared with 664,000 in May.

Chart 2  Chart 2: One-third of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries last worked in industries providing in-person services (not seasonally adjusted)
One-third of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries last worked in industries providing in-person services (not seasonally adjusted)

Women 55 years and older account for all of the monthly decrease in regular EI recipients

Women aged 55 years and older (-73,000; -31.4%) was the lone demographic group with fewer regular EI recipients in July compared with a month earlier. The decrease was concentrated in Ontario (-22,000; -29.4%), British Columbia (-15,000; -46.6%) and Alberta (-11,000; -43.1%).

In July, the number of core-aged (25 to 54 years) women receiving regular EI benefits rose by 16,000 (+3.7%), almost twice the increase among core-aged men (+9,000; +1.9%). According to July LFS results, unemployment increased by 12,000 among core-aged women.

Long-term unemployment reflected in regular EI benefits

July LFS results showed that 27.8% of all unemployed had been continuously out of work for 27 weeks or more, compared with 15.6% in February 2020. This elevated level of long-term unemployment is reflected in the profile of regular EI recipients.

In July, 63.1% of EI recipients had received regular EI benefits or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) in at least 7 of the last 12 months, up from 16.1% in February 2020 (not seasonally adjusted). Two-thirds (66.7%) of men received regular EI benefits or CERB in at least 7 of the last 12 months, compared with 59.9% of women (not seasonally adjusted). Among longer-term regular EI recipients, over half (57.5%) were core-aged (aged 25 to 54 years) (not seasonally adjusted). By province, the proportion of EI recipients who had received regular EI benefits or CERB in at least 7 of the last 12 months ranged from 58.8% in Manitoba to 67.0% in Newfoundland and Labrador (not seasonally adjusted).

Next release

Information on the profile of EI recipients for the week of August 15 to 21 will be released on October 21, 2021.

Sustainable Development Goals

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

Employment Insurance statistics are an example of how Statistics Canada supports reporting on global sustainable development goals. This release will be used to help measure the following goal:

  Note to readers

Employment Insurance in the context of broader COVID-19 benefit programs

No methodological changes were made to the Employment Insurance Statistics (EIS) program over the COVID-19 pandemic period. EIS reflect the Employment Insurance (EI) program for the Labour Force Survey (LFS) reference week in each month.

Data for the October 2020 reference period and onward comprise individuals who obtained EI benefits, and exclude beneficiaries of the Canada recovery benefits (Canada Recovery Benefit, Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit, and Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit).

Concepts and methodology

The analysis focuses on people who received regular EI benefits related to job loss.

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.

EI statistics indicate the number of people who received EI benefits and should not be confused with 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 jobs voluntarily or those who did not accumulate enough hours of work to receive benefits.

All data in this release are seasonally adjusted, unless otherwise specified. Values for all series from March 2020 to July 2021 have been treated as outliers in determining a seasonal pattern for seasonal adjustment. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

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

The number of beneficiaries is a measure of all people who received regular EI benefits from July 11 to 17. This period coincides with the reference week of the LFS.

Beneficiaries who qualified for EI under the new EI rules introduced in September 2020

Temporary changes to the EI program that provided all new regular EI beneficiaries with a one-time credit of 300 insurable hours were introduced on September 27, 2020. In addition, the unemployment rate used to calculate their eligibility and entitlement weeks was 13.1%, unless their region's unemployment rate was higher.

This supplementary indicator presents the number of individuals who qualified for EI, only as a result of these program changes.

EI beneficiaries by industry

The industry of EI beneficiaries is determined by integrating EI data with record of employment administrative data. For beneficiaries with more than one record of employment in the 52 weeks prior to the reference week, the records with the greatest number of hours are used. If no industry information can be found, industry information is deemed "Not classified" for the beneficiary.

EI beneficiaries by number of months on EI or Canada Emergency Response Benefit over the previous 12 months

This supplementary indicator presents the number of regular EI recipients who received either regular EI benefits or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) for a defined number of months over the previous 12 months.

A census metropolitan area (CMA) or 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 2016 – Definitions for more information.

Data availability

Data tables 14-10-0336 and 14-10-0337 remain suspended as of the December 2019 reference period, because of occupational coding issues from the source data file. Work is ongoing to identify a solution to continue publishing the tables.

Data tables 14-10-0004, 14-10-0005, 14-10-0007 and 14-10-0008 remain suspended as of the March 2020 reference period because a source data file contains records for CERB claimants and beneficiaries who could not be identified and excluded through processing.

In the data table 14-10-0009, for the March to September 2020 reference periods, subaggregates of the parent "regular benefits" benefit type have been suppressed because of data quality.

Historical revision of Employment Insurance data

Seasonally adjusted data for May and June 2021 have been revised to better reflect seasonal patterns typically observed during the late spring and early summer. Revised seasonally adjusted data for January 2017 to April 2021 will be released on October 21, 2021. Until then, seasonally adjusted EI data for reference periods before May 2021 should not be compared with data for reference periods after May 2021. This limitation does not apply to unadjusted data.

Also on October 21, tables 14-10-0336 and 14-10-0337, which include information on EI recipients by occupation, will be updated to include data from December 2019 to July 2021. Release of this statistical information is currently suspended due to unusually high levels of missing data in the source administrative data file.

Next release

Data on EI for August will be released on October 21, 2021.


More information about the concepts and use of Employment Insurance statistics is available in the Guide to Employment Insurance Statistics (Catalogue number73-506-G).

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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