Below 40% of the Unemployed Get EI

Statistics Canada reported today that 12,400 more Canadians received Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits in January. The increase in recipients reflected higher unemployment.

Indeed, the proportion of jobless workers receiving benefits remained 39% (i.e. 561,060 beneficiaries out of 1,421,200 officially unemployed Canadians.) Only 28% of unemployed Ontarians received EI benefits in January (i.e. 163,570 beneficiaries out of 593,400 unemployed), an issue almost certain to be raised in next week’s provincial budget.

Today’s reported increase in EI recipients provides further confirmation that the job market is deteriorating. The upcoming federal budget should improve the accessibility and duration of EI benefits to help a larger proportion of unemployed Canadians. More broadly, federal and provincial budgets should focus on job creation rather than austerity, which could further damage the weak labour market.

Erin Weir is an economist with the United Steelworkers union and a CCPA research associate.

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