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.


  • Letter published in The Vancouver Sun, Mar. 21

    Financial troubles won’t be helped by smaller government

    Re: Think-tank proposes new taxes in budget for middle class, March 15

    Because it is the monopoly issuer of the currency, the government of Canada can never run out of money.

    The implications of this are profound: there should never be unemployment since sufficient government spending can always close the demand gap and provide work to all willing job seekers.

    In 1935, our federal debt as a percentage of GDP (gross domestic product) was already 75 per cent, but we did not surrender during the Second World War because Canada could not afford soldiers.

    By 1945, as a result of huge military expenditures, the ratio of debt to GDP had soared to 132 per cent.

    Yet in the postwar years, far from cutting back, the government built infrastructure, welcomed immigrants and introduced many new social service programs.

    With an economy running efficiently, the debt ratio dropped by 1970 to 40 per cent.

    Anyone who says the government is in such dire financial straits today that it must cut services and must fire employees does not understand economics and does not know history.

    Larry Kazdan Vancouver

  • Until just three days ago I had been unemployed since 2008. However because I was a student I was ineligible for any assistance other than the meager student aid that I got from the government that barely covered my tuition. As a result I am now $30,000 in debt (that includes the student loan debt to the government), all that despite the fact that I have been living off of just $1,200 per month (well under the poverty level). It will take years to pay that off even assuming I live my current austere lifestyle and I retain my employment after I graduate.

    And I know I’m not the only one in my situation.

  • No, for sure you’re not. I don’t know what the Canadian figures look like, but student debt in the US is soaring, just multiplying. I understand it’s pretty dashed bad in Canada, but the American financial institutions are making student debt one side of the multifaceted new bubble they’re trying to blow–it’s getting ridiculous fast. Tons of people aren’t going to be able to repay that stuff, but bankruptcy laws make it near impossible to declare bankruptcy on student loans. Something’s going to give.

  • The government cuts need to be opposed vigorously…they are pure job killers…..

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