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Employment Insurance, July 2017

Released: 2017-09-21

In July, 536,600 people received regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, up 6,800 (+1.3%) from June. This is the first increase in the number of beneficiaries in eight months. The increase reflects a reduction in the waiting period to receive EI benefits from two weeks to one week, effective January 1, 2017, which disproportionately affected occupations in educational services in July. The reference week for July 2017 falls two weeks after the end of the school year for many school boards across Canada, and with the reduced waiting period, more beneficiaries in education were observed during that time than was the case in previous years.

Six provinces had more beneficiaries, led by Manitoba (+11.8%). Increases also occurred in Prince Edward Island (+4.5%), New Brunswick (+2.3%), Ontario (+1.8%), Nova Scotia (+1.5%) and British Columbia (+1.5%). The number of beneficiaries was little changed in the remaining provinces, with the exception of Saskatchewan, where the number of beneficiaries decreased 2.9%.

In general, changes in the number of beneficiaries can reflect a number of different circumstances, including people becoming beneficiaries, those going back to work, and those no longer receiving regular benefits.

Nationally, there were 8.7% fewer beneficiaries on a year-over-year basis. This decrease was largely attributable to the unusually high number of beneficiaries in July 2016, coinciding with the introduction of legislative changes to the EI program. These changes eliminated higher eligibility requirements for new entrants and re-entrants to the labour market, simplified job-search responsibilities for beneficiaries, and extended the duration of EI benefits for regions affected by the 2014-2016 commodities downturn. Consequently, historical comparisons with July 2016 are not recommended and the rest of this analysis focuses on month-to-month changes.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries
Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries

Provincial and sub-provincial overview

In July, 17,500 people in Manitoba received regular EI benefits, up 11.8% from the previous month. This is the largest increase in the province since March 2009, and it coincides with both the end of the school year and a number of large companies reducing their workforces simultaneously in the province. Provincial growth in the number of beneficiaries was driven by the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Winnipeg (+14.7%). The number of beneficiaries also increased in areas outside of Winnipeg.

The number of beneficiaries in Prince Edward Island increased by 4.5% in July to 7,800, with most of this growth occurring in areas outside of census agglomerations (CAs).

In New Brunswick, 32,500 people received benefits in July, up 2.3% from the previous month. Increases were observed throughout the province, particularly in CAs (+5.0%).

The number of beneficiaries in Nova Scotia rose by 1.5% in July to 28,000. Increases occurred in all areas of the province, most notably in the CMA of Halifax (+4.3%).

In Ontario, 135,400 people received benefits in July, up 1.8% from June. There were increases in the CMAs of Windsor (+18.7%), Oshawa (+15.6%), London (+6.1%), Peterborough (+5.8%), Toronto (+3.6%) and St. Catharines–Niagara (+1.6%). On the other hand, the number of beneficiaries decreased in the CMAs of Greater Sudbury (-7.2%), Brantford (-4.8%), Hamilton (-3.6%), Ottawa–Gatineau (Ontario part) (-3.1%), Kingston (-2.6%) and areas outside of CMAs and CAs (-2.3%).

The number of beneficiaries in British Columbia increased by 1.5% to 51,000 in July. This growth mostly occurred in the CMA of Abbotsford–Mission (+23.6%), followed by Victoria (+6.2%) and CAs (+1.9%).

Saskatchewan was the only province in which the number of beneficiaries decreased, from 18,700 in June to 18,100 in July (-2.9%). Declines primarily occurred in the CMA of Saskatoon (-9.7%) and areas outside of CMAs and CAs (-2.4%). In Regina, the number of beneficiaries increased by 6.1%.

In July, the number of beneficiaries in Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and Alberta was little changed from June. However, this was not the case for some areas within these provinces. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the number of beneficiaries in the CMA of St. John's increased by 1.1%. In Quebec, the CMA of Québec (+5.1%), CAs (+3.2%), and the CMA of Ottawa–Gatineau (Quebec part) (+1.1%) recorded increases in beneficiaries, while the CMAs of Montréal (-1.6%) and Trois-Rivières (-1.6%) posted decreases. In Alberta, the number of beneficiaries rose in CAs (+3.5%) and areas outside CMAs and CAs (+2.3%), and declined in Calgary (-2.8%).

Employment Insurance beneficiaries in major demographic groups

The number of female beneficiaries increased across all age groups (+4.6%) between June and July, while the number of male beneficiaries was little changed. This partially reflects women's overrepresentation in professional occupations in education services, given that July is generally the first month of summer break for primary and secondary schools.

Employment Insurance claims

The number of EI claims totalled 245,200 in July, up 2.7% from June. The number of claims provides an indication of the number of people who could become beneficiaries.

The greatest increase in claims occurred in British Columbia (+12.1%), which may reflect forest fires that prompted the declaration of a provincial state of emergency from July 7 to September 15. The number of claims also increased in Ontario (+8.5%), Manitoba (+4.0%) and Saskatchewan (+2.8%), while it decreased in Newfoundland and Labrador (-8.6%), Quebec (-2.7%), Alberta (-2.1%), Prince Edward Island (-2.0%) and New Brunswick (-1.7%). The number of claims in Nova Scotia was largely unchanged from June.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Employment Insurance claims
Employment Insurance claims

Telling Canada's story in numbers; #ByTheNumbers

In celebration of the country's 150th birthday, Statistics Canada is presenting snapshots from our rich statistical history.

Shifting age profile of Employment Insurance beneficiaries

Over the past 40 years, the age distribution of Employment Insurance (EI) beneficiaries has shifted in concert with the overall population. While the core age group (aged 25 to 54) has always represented the largest share of beneficiaries, the relative shares of younger (aged 15 to 24) and older (aged 55 and above) beneficiaries have reversed.

In 1976, more than one-third (37%) of EI beneficiaries were between 15 and 24 years old; just over half (54%) were in the core working age group of 25 to 54 years, and 9% were aged 55 and older.

Over the following two decades, the share of beneficiaries in the 15-to-24 age group steadily declined, and was about 13% in 1996. During the same time period, the share of core-age beneficiaries increased by more than 20 percentage points to 78%, while the share of older beneficiaries remained essentially stable.

In the late 1990s, the share of older beneficiaries began to increase, reaching 24% by 2016. At the same time, the proportion of core-age beneficiaries contracted to about 67%, while the share of youth beneficiaries stabilized around 10%.

These shifts in EI beneficiaries mirror those observed in the age distribution of the overall population aged 15 and older. In 1976, youth aged 15 to 24 represented just over one-quarter (27%) of all people aged 15 and over. This proportion fell to 17% by 1996 and edged down to 15% by 2016. People aged 55 and above comprised approximately one-quarter of the population aged 15 and over from 1976 through 1996, followed by a steady increase to 36% by 2016.

While this shift from the younger to the older age group has occurred in both populations (EI beneficiaries and all persons aged 15 and over), the change has happened at different rates. For youth, their share among EI beneficiaries declined more quickly than their share of the general working-age population. In 1976, the youth share of EI beneficiaries was higher than the youth share of the working age population. By 1996, the opposite was true, and remained so through 2016.

For people aged 55 and older, the rate of increase in their share of EI beneficiaries has more or less kept pace with the change in their share of the working age population. The share of this age group among EI beneficiaries continues to be somewhat below their share of the general working-age population, but the gap has not changed significantly over time. See the chart Age Distribution of Employment Insurance Beneficiaries and Population Aged 15+, Canada, selected years. This is consistent with the increasing labour force participation of this age group, as described in the recent publication "The impact of aging on labour market participation rates".

Sources: CANSIM table 276-0002 (data on beneficiaries for 1976, 1986 and 1996); Employment Insurance Statistics, custom tabulations (data on beneficiaries for 2006, 2016); and CANSIM table 051-0001 (data on population for 1976, 1986, 1996, 2006, 2016).

  Note to readers

Concepts and methodology

The analysis presented here focuses on people who received regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits related to job loss. Claims data pertain to initial and renewal claims received for any type of EI benefits, including special benefits.

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. The most recent series of changes were introduced in July 2016.

Regular EI benefits are available to eligible individuals who lose their jobs and who are available for and able to work, but cannot find a job. To receive EI benefits, individuals must first submit a claim.

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 is not insured. Other unemployed people have contributed to the program but do not meet the eligibility criteria, such as workers who left their job voluntarily or those who did not accumulate enough hours of work to receive benefits.

All data in this release are seasonally adjusted. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

Numbers in the Daily text are rounded to the nearest hundred.

The number of regular EI beneficiaries and the number of claims received for the current and previous month are subject to revision.

The number of beneficiaries is a measure of all people who received EI benefits from July 9 to 15. This period coincides with the reference week of the LFS. However, claims data are for the entire month.

Geographical definitions

A census metropolitan area (CMA) or a census agglomeration (CA) is 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 2011 – definitions for more information.

Next release

Data on Employment Insurance for August will be released on October 19.


More information about the concepts and use of Employment Insurance statistics is available online in the Guide to Employment Insurance Statistics (Catalogue number73-506-G).

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Melissa Moyser (613-951-4027; or Client Services (toll free: 1-866-873-8788;, Labour Statistics Division.

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