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Employment Insurance, January 2023

Released: 2023-03-23

In January, 375,000 Canadians received regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, down by 20,000 (-5.0%) from December 2022. This was the lowest number of regular EI beneficiaries on record since comparable data became available in 1997, outside of the period when the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit was in place from March to September 2020.

On a year-over-year basis, the number of regular EI beneficiaries fell by 294,000 (-43.9%). The largest proportional decline was observed among young women aged 15 to 24 years (-73.0%; -27,000), followed by young men aged 15 to 24 years (-59.9%; -31,000).

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.

According to the Labour Force Survey (LFS), the unemployment rate held steady at 5.0% in January, just above the record low of 4.9% observed in June and July 2022. In addition, the proportion of long-term unemployment (being continuously unemployed for 27 weeks or more) was 15.8% in January, down from 19.9% one year earlier.

Chart 1  Chart 1: The number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries continues downward trend
The number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries continues downward trend

The number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries decreases in eight provinces

The largest proportional decline in the number of regular EI beneficiaries was in Quebec (-10.5%; -9,400), where it fell for the sixth consecutive month in January. This is consistent with LFS estimates, which reported that the province's unemployment rate continued to hover around a record low of 3.9% and was the lowest among the provinces.

The number of regular EI beneficiaries also fell in seven other provinces, including Prince Edward Island (-8.2%; -700), Alberta (-5.5%; -2,400) and Ontario (-4.9%; -5,100). At the same time, there was little change in the number of regular EI beneficiaries in Nova Scotia and British Columbia.

Census metropolitan areas (CMAs) (-12,000; -5.7%) accounted for 58.1% of the monthly decrease in the number of regular EI recipients in January. The largest proportional regional declines in regular EI beneficiaries were recorded in the CMAs of Windsor (-14.2%; -500), Québec (-13.9%; -800) and Oshawa (-13.5%; -400). In comparison, the number of beneficiaries increased in the Vancouver CMA (+1.6%; +300).

The number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries decreases across all major demographic groups

In January, the number of young people aged 15 to 24 years receiving regular EI benefits fell by 4,900 (-19.3%) for men and by 700 (-6.4%) for women. Despite the larger decrease in recipients among young men, they continued to account for a majority (67.7%) of young beneficiaries in January. On a year-over-year basis, the largest proportional decline in the number of regular EI beneficiaries was seen among young women (-73.0%; -27,000), followed by young men (-59.9%; -31,000).

The number of core-aged (25 to 54 years) people receiving regular EI benefits fell by 11,000 (-4.5%) in January, accounting for more than half (54.7%) of the monthly decline. Declines were recorded for core-aged women (-5.0%; -4,800) and core-aged men (-4.1%; -6,100). Among people aged 55 years and older, the number of regular EI beneficiaries fell by 1,800 (-4.2%) among women and by 1,600 (-2.2%) among men.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Young women have the largest proportional decline in regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries from January 2022 to January 2023
Young women have the largest proportional decline in regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries from January 2022 to January 2023

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 later this year. 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 January 15 to 21, 2023. 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 February 2023 will be released on April 20, 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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