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Thomas StorringDirector – Economics and Statistics
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May 19, 2022

From March to September 2020, Statistics Canada suspended publication of employment insurance (EI) statistics.  Canadians were eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) during this period.  Data for the period from March to September 2020 shows how an initial rise in EI claims at the start of the pandemic was reversed as new EI applicants were directed to CERB instead.  After September 27, 2020 there was a temporary expansion of EI and CERB recipients were transitioned back to EI. Temporary changes, including a reduction in the number of insurable hours required for eligibility, ended in September 2021. 

The information released today for March 2022 reflects the period of March 13 to 19. Many health measures had been eased by the March reference week. All capacity limits and proof-of-vaccination requirements were lifted in Ontario, Manitoba , Alberta and Quebec prior to the reference week. Nova Scotia was in phase 1 reopening during the week.

In March, there were 29,910 Nova Scotians in receipt of regular EI (seasonally adjusted) benefits. Nova Scotia's seasonally adjusted regular EI usage declined by 190  (-0.6%) from February to March.

There were 524,040 Canadians that received regular EI benefits in March (seasonally adjusted), a decrease of 40,580 (-7.2%) from February. All provinces with the exception of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick reported declines in regular beneficiaries this month.

As a percentage of the labour force, employment insurance beneficiaries reflect 5.9% of the labour force in Nova Scotia in March 2022. Nationally, the share of beneficiaries was 2.5% of the labour force. Employment insurance beneficiaries reflect a larger share of the labour force in Atlantic Canada. All provinces reported higher EI proportions than February 2020, except Saskatchewan which was the same.

When compared to February 2020, EI usage has increased 17.4% across Canada as of March 2022. In Nova Scotia, EI usage was up 17.3% compared to the pre-pandemic benchmark. The largest percentage increases in EI usage were in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. The smallest increases in EI usage was reported in Saskatchewan.

By age and sex cohort, the increase in EI usage has been notably higher among women since the onset of the pandemic (Mar 2022 vs Feb 2020, seasonally adjusted).  The industries whose employment was most affected by public health restrictions and other pandemic precautions had a disproportionate share of female employment. The increase in EI usage among youth has been larger than other age groups.


In March 2022, EI beneficiaries reflect a larger share of the labour force for males and for those aged 55 and over.

All occupational categories, except trades &transportation, saw increases in EI usage in Nova Scotia for Jan-Mar 2022 compared to the same period in 2020. Sales and service occupations has the largest increase in usage compared to before the pandemic.

Among counties (comparing unadjusted results for March 2022 with March 2020), EI usage increased the fastest in Kings, Pictou and Halifax  EI usage was lower in Colchester, Hants, Inverness, Antigonish, and Lunenburg.



Source: Statistics Canada.  Table  14-10-0011-01   Employment insurance beneficiaries (regular benefits) by province and territory, monthly, seasonally adjusted
Table  14-10-0323-01   Employment insurance beneficiaries by census division, monthly, unadjusted for seasonality
Table 14-10-0337-01  Employment insurance beneficiaries (regular benefits) by province, territory and occupation, monthly, seasonally adjusted
Table 14-10-0287-01  Labour force characteristics, monthly, seasonally adjusted and trend-cycle, last 5 months
Table 14-10-0343-01  Employment Insurance beneficiaries by economic region, monthly, unadjusted for seasonality
Table 14-10-0387-01  Labour force characteristics, three-month moving average, unadjusted for seasonality, last 5 months
Table 14-10-0344-01  Employment Insurance beneficiaries (regular benefits) by economic region, monthly, seasonally adjusted