Employment Insurance, March 2023
In March, 388,000 Canadians received regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, little changed from February. The number of regular EI recipients in March 2023 was the lowest on record (outside of the period when the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit was in place from March to September 2020). The number of people collecting regular EI benefits fell by 26.7% (-141,000) in the 12 months to March 2023.
According to the Labour Force Survey, the unemployment rate held steady at a near-record low of 5.0% in March. Meanwhile, the proportion of the unemployed who had been out of work for 27 weeks or more—the long-term unemployed—fell from 20.3% in March 2022 to 16.0% in March 2023.
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.
Fewer people collect regular Employment Insurance benefits in five provinces
In March, the number of people receiving regular EI benefits fell in five provinces. The largest proportional decline was in Prince Edward Island (-5.5%; -400), where the number of regular EI recipients fell for a third consecutive month. Other notable proportional decreases occurred in Alberta (-2.8%; -1,100), Manitoba (-2.2%; -300), Nova Scotia (-2.2%; -500) and New Brunswick (-1.1%; -300).
The number of regular EI beneficiaries in Ontario edged up 1.0% (+1,100) in March. This was the third consecutive monthly increase for the province, bringing cumulative gains since December 2022 to 6,900 (+6.5%). Compared with 12 months earlier, the number of regular EI beneficiaries in Ontario was down by 22.9% (-33,600) in March 2023.
There was little change in the number of regular EI beneficiaries in the other four provinces in March.
Among census metropolitan areas (CMAs), the largest proportional decreases in regular EI beneficiaries were in the CMAs of Hamilton (-10.2%; -600) and Kelowna (-7.5%; -200). Conversely, the largest proportional increases in the number of beneficiaries were in the CMAs of Guelph (+16.7%; +200) and Kingston (+13.6%; +200).
More women collect regular Employment Insurance benefits in March 2023, partially offsetting a decrease among men
The number of women receiving regular EI benefits increased by 5,900 (+4.0%) in March, partially offsetting a decrease among men (-8,300; -3.4%). This was the first increase in the number of women collecting regular EI benefits since July 2022.
The increase in regular EI beneficiaries among women in March 2023 was split evenly between core-aged women aged 25 to 54 (+3.4%; +3,200) and women aged 55 years and older (+7.4%; +3,100). Despite the increase in March, on a year-over-year basis, the number of regular EI beneficiaries was lower for both core-aged women (-28.3%; -38,000) and women aged 55 years and older (-31.7%; -21,000).
For a third consecutive month, fewer core-aged men (aged 25 to 54) received regular EI benefits (-2.4%; -3,600) in March. Among men aged 55 years and older, the number of regular EI recipients fell by 4.8% (-3,500).
In March, the number of young people aged 15 to 24 years receiving regular EI benefits fell by 5.2% (-1,300) for men and by 3.6% (-400) for women.
Beneficiaries receiving regular income benefits, by province and territory, sex and age group – Seasonally adjusted
Beneficiaries receiving regular income benefits, by census metropolitan category – 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 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.
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.
Data on EI for April will be released on June 22.
More information about the concepts and use of Employment Insurance statistics is available in the Guide to Employment Insurance Statistics (73-506-G).
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; email@example.com) or Media Relations (firstname.lastname@example.org).