EI: More Workers Fall Through the Cracks

Statistics Canada reported today that the number of Canadians receiving Employment Insurance (EI) dropped by 29,000 in April. Meanwhile, the Labour Force Survey indicates that unemployment rose by 14,000 in April (and by a further 8,000 in May). The combination of falling EI coverage and rising unemployment means that tens of thousands more jobless workers are not getting benefits.

In total, there were 514,000 EI recipients out of 1,371,000 officially unemployed workers in April. In other words, only 37% of jobless Canadians received EI benefits. This ratio was as low as 26% in Ontario and 22% in Alberta.

It’s worth noting that this significant deterioration of EI coverage occurred even before the measures in the omnibus budget bill to further restrict the program. Kicking more workers off benefits is absolutely the wrong approach amid rising unemployment.

UPDATE (June 22): Quoted in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix and Regina Leader-Post


  • So if kicking more ‘workers’ off benefits is absolutely the wrong approach, then what, dare tell, is the absolute correct approach? Not that I really care. I’ve always thought that jobs were for chumps.

  • Erin, I’ve heard repeatedly that the percentage of unemployed people receiving EI is both absolutely low and relatively much lower than it used to be, but never a full explanation as to why.

    What are the main reasons for which (officially) unemployed people are excluded from EI? Is it primarily insufficient hours worked, or other reasons like quitting voluntarily? How have these requirements changed as compared with the pre-Liberal reform era?

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