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Employment Insurance, March 2024

Released: 2024-05-23

In March, 470,000 Canadians received regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, little changed (+0.1%; +400) from February. After trending higher from February to December 2023 (+78,000; +19.8%), the number of regular (EI) recipients has remained relatively steady in recent months.

On a year-over-year basis, the number of regular EI beneficiaries was up by 75,000 (+18.9%) in March 2024.

Data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) show that the unemployment rate rose 0.3 percentage points to 6.1% in March, bringing the cumulative increase since March 2023 to 1.0 percentage points.

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: The number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries holds relatively steady in recent months
The number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries holds relatively steady in recent months

Slightly fewer youth receive regular Employment Insurance benefits in March

Following increases totalling 3,300 (+7.6%) from October 2023 to February 2024, the number of youth (aged 15 to 24) receiving regular EI benefits edged down in March (-500; -1.0%), all among young men. In the 12 months to March 2024, the number of regular EI recipients increased among both young men (+8,100; +33.9%) and young women (+1,800; +15.9%). Over the same period, LFS data show that the unemployment rate increased 3.3 percentage points to 13.4% for young men and 2.9 percentage points to 11.7% among young women. At 45,000 in March 2024, the current number of young EI recipients was 2.1% below the average level from 2017 to 2019 (46,000).

While the number of core-aged (25 to 54 years old) regular EI recipients was little changed in March, it was up on a year-over-year basis by 33,000 (+21.5%) for core-aged men and by 19,000 (+19.3%) among core-aged women.

The number of EI recipients aged 55 and older receiving regular benefits was little changed for the third consecutive month in March. Although there were more older men (+9,700; +13.9%) and older women (+3,800; +9.0%) receiving regular EI benefits in March compared with a year earlier, the increases were proportionally smaller than those recorded among youth and those in the core-aged group.

Fewer regular Employment Insurance recipients in four provinces and more in one

In March, the number of regular EI beneficiaries fell in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and British Columbia, while it increased in Ontario. There was little change in the other provinces.

Fewer Newfoundlanders and Labradorians (-600; -2.0%) received regular EI benefits in March, the second decline in three months. The largest decrease in the month was in the number of recipients aged 55 and older (-300; -2.6%). Compared with March 2023, the total number of EI recipients receiving regular benefits in Newfoundland and Labrador was down by 1,100 (-3.6%) in March 2024. New Brunswick (-400; -1.5%) was the one other province to see a year-over-year decline in its number of EI recipients.

Prince Edward Island (-100; -1.5%) and Nova Scotia (-300; -1.4%) also posted declines in the number of regular EI recipients in March. However, on a year-over-year basis, the number of EI beneficiaries was up by 400 (+6.5%) in Prince Edward Island and by 700 (+3.2%) in Nova Scotia.

The number of regular EI recipients in British Columbia fell by 600 (-1.2%) in March, the smallest of four consecutive monthly decreases. Declines in March were observed among older men and women (-400; -3.1%) and among youth (-200; -4.5%). Despite recent declines in British Columbia, the number of regular EI recipients was up 19.6% (+7,800) on a year-over-year basis.

The Vancouver census metropolitan area (CMA) also posted a fourth consecutive monthly decline in the number of people receiving regular EI benefits. The number of recipients was down by 300 (-1.6%) in March.

In Ontario, the number of regular EI beneficiaries increased by 1,800 (+1.2%) in March, continuing an upward trend that began in December 2022, with cumulative increases totalling 41,000 (+39.0%). Over the period, the LFS showed that the provincial unemployment rate increased from 5.3% in December 2022 to 6.7% in March 2024. The largest increase in regular EI recipients in March 2024 was among core-aged women (+1,300; +3.1%), with a smaller overall increase seen among older men and women (+700; +2.2%).

Among CMAs in Ontario, the number of regular EI recipients increased the most in Toronto (+1,700; +2.9%) in March. There was little change in most other Ontario CMAs.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Number of regular Employment Insurance recipients falls the most in Newfoundland and Labrador in March and increases in Ontario
Number of regular Employment Insurance recipients falls the most in Newfoundland and Labrador in March and increases in Ontario

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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 in 2024. 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 March 10 to 16, 2024. 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 April will be released on June 20.


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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