Saskatchewan was one of eight provinces to see a year-over-year decrease in the number of Employment Insurance (EI) recipients according to the latest numbers released by Statistics Canada.
Between Dec. 2017 and Dec. 2018, the number of Canadians receiving EI benefits fell by 52,730, a decrease of 10.6 per cent. During that same time period, 2,550 Saskatchewan residents stopped receiving EI, a drop of 14.1 per cent.
Martha Patterson, a senior analyst with Statistics Canada’s Labour Statistics Division, said Saskatchewan still falls far behind other provinces like Alberta and British Columbia. However, she said those numbers, combined with the province’s unemployment rate, show some positive developments for Saskatchewan.
“The number of employment insurance beneficiaries has actually been on a downward trend since Oct. 2016, so it’s a long standing trend,” Patterson explained. “If you go back to the 12-month period, the year-over-year from December to December, we can see from the labour force survey that the unemployment rate in Saskatchewan declined from 6.4 per cent to 5.6 per cent over that period, so that’s showing an improving labour market.”
Patterson added that there isn’t one particular sector driving the decline in EI recipients, which she said is consistent with labour market indicators showing generally improving conditions.
Despite the positive year-over-year developments, Saskatchewan did see a jump in EI recipients between November and December 2018. There were 540 additional recipients in December, which marked the first increase in 12 months.
Alberta saw the largest year-over-year decline in EI recipients with a 24.3 per cent decrease. As of Dec. 2018 there were 15,370 fewer recipients compared to the year before. British Columbia saw the second biggest decline at 17.2 per cent.
All three of Canada’s territories also saw declining EI numbers, with Nunavut leading the pack with a drop of 21.1 per cent. There were 450 recipients in Nunavut in Dec. 2018, a decrease of 120 from the same time the year before.
Regular EI benefits are paid to eligible individuals who lose their jobs or who are available for and able to work, but cannot find a job. All EI numbers in the Statistics Canada report, with the exception of data on fishing benefits, is seasonally adjusted.