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Employment Insurance, December 2022

Released: 2023-02-16

The number of Canadians receiving regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits in December fell by 8,100 (-2.0%) to 398,000, continuing the downward trend in the number of regular EI beneficiaries observed since July 2022.

According to the Labour Force Survey (LFS), the unemployment rate declined 0.1 percentage points to 5.0% in December, just above the record low of 4.9% observed in June and July.

In general, variations in the number of EI 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: Fewer regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries in December
Fewer regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries in December

The number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries decreases in six provinces

Compared with November, the number of people receiving regular EI benefits fell in six provinces in December. For the second consecutive month, Ontario (-3.8%; -4,300) had the largest proportional decrease and accounted for over half of the decrease in December. Other notable proportional declines occurred in Saskatchewan (-3.2%; -400), Alberta (-2.8%; -1,200) and Quebec (-2.2%; -2,000). In contrast, the number of regular EI beneficiaries in December increased slightly in Prince Edward Island (+1.8%; +100) and British Columbia (+1.6%; +700) and were little changed in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

The census metropolitan areas (CMAs) of Trois-Rivières (-15.1%; -300), Saint John (-9.8%; -200) and Windsor (-6.9%; -300) posted the largest proportional decreases in regular EI recipients. Conversely, the number of beneficiaries increased in the CMA of Vancouver (+4.8%; +800), which accounted for the entire increase in British Columbia.

Fewer core-aged people collect regular Employment Insurance benefits in December

The number of people aged 25 to 54 years receiving regular EI benefits fell by 6,400 (-2.5%) in December, split evenly between men and women. This decrease accounted for over three-quarters of the total decline in the number of beneficiaries.

The number of core-aged men and women receiving regular EI benefits trended downward since July 2022, though this decline was more pronounced for women. This steady decline contributed to the 41.5% decrease in the number of core-aged women receiving regular EI benefits in December compared with December 2021. The number of core-aged men receiving regular EI benefits fell by 32.3% during the same period.

Fewer young men aged 15 to 24 years (-5.1%; -1,400) collected regular EI benefits in December for the seventh month in a row. Little changed in the number of young women receiving benefits after 10 months of decline. The number of people aged 55 years and older receiving regular EI benefits also was little changed.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Number of core-aged regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries down since December 2021
Number of core-aged regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries down since December 2021

Number of people collecting Employment Insurance sickness benefits below December 2019 levels

In addition to information on the number of people collecting regular EI benefits, the Employment Insurance Statistics program also includes data on the number of people collecting special EI benefits, such as maternity benefits, parental benefits, fishing benefits and sickness benefits.

In December, 71,000 people collected EI sickness benefits, which was lower than the average of 81,000 recipients in the month of December from 2017 to 2019 (not seasonally adjusted). EI sickness benefits provide financial assistance to people whose weekly earnings have decreased by more than 40% due to medical reasons and who have accumulated enough insurable hours. In December, the LFS reported that 8.2% of employees were absent due to illness or disability, which was higher than the pre-COVID-19 pandemic average of 6.9% recorded in the month of December from 2017 to 2019 (not seasonally adjusted).

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

Availability of data by occupation

Statistics Canada is currently revising the Employment Insurance Statistics (EIS) data to conform to the 2021 National Occupational Classification (NOC) standard. This will result in EIS occupation categories aligning with the 2021 Census of Population and Labour Force Survey NOC 2021 categories. The release of revised data is planned for June 2023. Until then, information on Employment Insurance (EI) beneficiaries by occupation, including tables 14-10-0336-01 and 14-10-0337-01, will not be available.

Concepts and methodology

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 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 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. To model the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, values for all series from March 2020 to November 2021 have been treated with a combination of level shifts and outliers to determine 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 all people who received regular EI benefits from December 4 to 10, 2022. This period coincides with the reference week of the LFS.

A census metropolitan area (CMA) and a census agglomeration (CA) are 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.

Next release

Data on EI for January 2023 will be released on March 23, 2023.


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 (

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