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Canada. Number of people receiving regular Employment Insurance benefits down

The number of people receiving regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits in October edged down 0.5% to 809,600.



In the year since October 2008, the number of regular EI beneficiaries increased by 309,300, or 61.8%.

During this 12-month period, the number rose in every province and territory. The largest gains occurred in Ontario (+122,200), Alberta (+56,400), British Columbia (+52,500) and Quebec (+49,200).

The number of regular EI beneficiaries peaked in June at 829,300. Since then, it has declined slightly. This is in contrast with the trend from October 2008 to June 2009, when monthly increases averaged 41,100 people.

The change in the number of regular EI beneficiaries is the reflection of various situations, including people becoming beneficiaries, and people leaving the EI system, either to go back to work or because they have exhausted their weeks of benefits.

The number of initial and renewal claims received in October amounted to 270,300, down by 7,000 or 2.5%, with the largest drop in Ontario. The number of EI claims received has been on a downward trend since the most recent peak in May 2009.

Compared with October 2008, the number of people receiving regular EI benefits was higher in all census metropolitan areas (see map). The number of beneficiaries more than doubled in every metropolitan area in Alberta and British Columbia, as well as in Greater Sudbury, Hamilton and Saskatoon.

Beneficiaries down in half the provinces

In October, the number of regular EI beneficiaries declined in half the provinces, with the largest decline in Quebec.

In Quebec, the number of people on EI was down slightly by 2,200 in October. Compared with June, the number of beneficiaries was lower by 2,500.

In Ontario, the number of EI beneficiaries was up slightly in October (+4,200), but remained down compared with June, as decreases over the summer months were only partly offset by an increase during the fall.

The number of EI beneficiaries was up in Alberta in October (+2,900 or +4.1%), following a substantial increase the month before (+13,700). Since June, the overall increase amounted to 11,800, the largest increase of all provinces over the period.

Although little changed in October, the number of EI beneficiaries in British Columbia was up 3,900 compared with June.

Sub-provincial and demographic overview

Year-over-year increases in EI beneficiaries slows in large centres of Quebec and the Atlantic provinces

Employment Insurance data by sub-provincial region, sex and age are not seasonally adjusted. Therefore, they are compared on a year-over-year basis.

All large centres in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces have shown smaller year-over-year increases in regular EI use. In Quebec, there was a notable change in Sherbrooke, with a much slower year-over-year increase in October (+33.7%) than in June.

In Montréal, the number of beneficiaries increased by 48.2% to 59,700 in October. In Québec, there were 8,100 beneficiaries in October, 28.5% more than a year earlier.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the year-over-year increases were around 13% for Corner Brook and Grand-Falls-Windsor and 52.0% for Labrador City.

In Hamilton, Ontario, the number of EI beneficiaries rose from 4,800 to 10,000, and in Kitchener, the number increased from 4,200 to 8,100. At the same time, the number of EI recipients in Toronto rose from 46,400 to 82,400.

In the northern part of Ontario, Greater Sudbury continued to experience a sharp year-over-year increase. The number of EI recipients rose from 1,600 in October 2008 to 4,000 in October 2009. At the same time, employment in Greater Sudbury declined, mostly in the natural resources sector.

The large centres of Alberta continued to show large year-over-year increases in the number of EI regular beneficiaries. The fastest year-over-year percentage increases were in Grande Prairie, Calgary and Medicine Hat. In Calgary, the number of people receiving regular benefits increased sharply from 4,100 to 18,400, while the number of beneficiaries in Edmonton rose from 4,200 to 14,700. These steep increases coincided with year-over-year employment losses for the province in manufacturing; retail and wholesale trade; professional, scientific and technical services; construction; and natural resources.

Fastest rate of growth among men under 55 during past 12 months
Between October 2008 and October 2009, the number of regular beneficiaries increased for both sexes and for all age groups. However, it rose at a faster pace for men aged 15 to 24 and those aged 25 to 54.

Employment losses have affected men more than women, since more men work in the manufacturing and construction sectors. The employment losses also affected youth more than older workers, as in previous downturns.

In October, there were 254,200 men aged 25 to 54 receiving regular EI benefits. They accounted for 42.9% of all regular beneficiaries, up from 40.2% in October 2008.

There were 41,600 young men in the 15 to 24 age group receiving regular benefits in October. They accounted for 7.0% of all regular beneficiaries, up from 5.9% a year earlier.

The number of women aged 25 to 54 receiving benefits increased from 124,100 to 172,200 during the year-long period. However, their share of total beneficiaries fell from 32.6% to 29.1%.

Fewer claims received in October

To receive EI benefits, individuals must first submit a claim. These provide an indication of the number of people who could become beneficiaries.

The number of initial and renewal claims received in October amounted to 270,300, down by 7,000 or 2.5%. The biggest decline occurred in Ontario where 7,400 fewer workers filed a claim, a 7.9% drop.

The number of EI claims received has been on a downward trend, a decline of 57,400 over the last five months since the most recent peak in May. During this period, the number of EI claims received has declined in every province.
© Statistics Canada -


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