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Employment Insurance, February 2023

Released: 2023-04-20

In February, 388,000 Canadians received regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, up by 11,000 (+3.0%) from January. This was the first monthly increase since July 2022. Despite the increase, the number of regular EI recipients in February 2023 was the second lowest on record (outside of the period when the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit was in place from March to September 2020), following the record low of January 2023.

According to the Labour Force Survey, the unemployment rate held steady at 5.0% in February, just shy of the record-low 4.9% observed in June and July of 2022.

In general, variations in the number of beneficiaries can reflect several changes in circumstances, including those becoming beneficiaries, those going back to work, those exhausting their regular benefits, and those no longer receiving benefits for other reasons. It is also possible to work part-time while receiving EI benefits (Working While on Claim). In February, most (89.3%) regular EI recipients had no declared earnings, up slightly from a year earlier (87.7%).

Chart 1  Chart 1: First increase in the number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries since July 2022
First increase in the number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries since July 2022

More people collecting regular Employment Insurance benefits in Ontario

The monthly increase in the number of people receiving regular EI benefits at the national level was driven by gains in Ontario (+14.8%; +15,000). This was the first increase in Ontario since October 2022. The increase in regular EI recipients was spread across the province, with the largest proportional increases in the census metropolitan areas (CMAs) of Windsor (+136.7%; +3,800), Hamilton (+42.7%; +1,800) and Oshawa (+24.1%; +600). On a year-over-year basis, the number of regular EI recipients in Ontario was lower than in February 2022 (-29.6%; -48,000).

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the number of regular EI beneficiaries increased slightly (+1.9%; +600) in February, the first increase since June 2021.

In contrast, the number of regular EI beneficiaries decreased in five provinces, with the largest proportional decreases in Prince Edward Island (-7.2%; -500), Manitoba (-3.9%; -500), and Alberta (-3.3%; -1,400). The largest proportional declines were in the CMAs of Winnipeg (-4.9%; -300) and Calgary (-4.1%; -500).

The number of regular Employment Insurance recipients increases across all age groups

Following declines in January, the number of people receiving regular EI benefits increased across all age groups in February. The number of beneficiaries grew for men (+3.0%; +7,100) and women (+3.0%; +4,300). Men comprised 62.7% of people collecting regular EI benefits in February.

Youth aged 15 to 24 years old had the largest proportional increase in the number of EI beneficiaries (+11.3%; +3,300) in February, partially offsetting a decrease in January. Year-over-year, young women (-68.4%; -21,000) and young men (-46.6%; -20,000) had larger proportional declines in their number of regular EI beneficiaries compared with other age groups.

The number of core-aged (25 to 54 years) people receiving regular EI benefits rose 1.8% (+4,200) in February. In this age group, an increase in the number of beneficiaries in Ontario was partially offset by declines in other provinces. Among people aged 55 years and older, the number of regular EI beneficiaries rose in February (+3.5%; +3,900).

Chart 2  Chart 2: Among core-aged people, the increase in regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries was concentrated in Ontario
Among core-aged people, the increase in regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries was concentrated in Ontario

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 February 12 to 18, 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 March 2023 will be released on May 18, 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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