Employment Insurance Monitoring and Assessment Report for the fiscal year beginning April 1, 2016 and ending March 31, 2017 Highlights

The Employment Insurance Monitoring and Assessment Report presents the analysis of the impact and effectiveness of the benefits and other assistance provided under the Employment Insurance Act during the fiscal year starting on April 1, 2016 and finishing on March 31, 2017 (referred to as the reporting period or FY1617). The highlights below relate to this period or reflect changes between FY1516 and FY1617.

Canada's economic and employment growth improved in FY1617 compared to the previous year, notwithstanding the persisting effects of the downturn in global commodity prices in jurisdictions more dependent on commodities.

  • Real gross domestic product increased by 1.7% in FY1617, following its slowest growth rate recorded since the 2008 to 2009 recession (+0.7% in FY1516). Economic growth picked up in FY1617 due to greater domestic consumer spending which was driven by a faster increase in borrowing than in income, leading to a record high Canadian household debt in FY1617.
  • While the national unemployment rate declined slightly-by 0.1 percentage points to 6.9% in FY1617, British Columbia posted the lowest unemployment rate (5.7%) across all provinces and Quebec posted its lowest unemployment rate on record (6.8%).
  • Nationally, employment increased by 1.0% relative to FY1516, reflecting strong increases in British Columbia (+3.4%), Quebec (+1.3%) and Ontario (+1.1%).

The number of new EI regular claims established decreased and the amount of EI regular benefits paid increased over the previous year.

  • In FY1617, 1.3 million new EI regular claims were established, a decrease of 7.7% over the previous year. This decline is attributable in part to the drop in the number of new claims established in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec due to the upward trend in employment observed in these regions.
  • The total amount paid in EI regular benefits rose by 4.5% to $12.7 billion. This increase is party explained by the temporary extension of EI regular benefits to regions impacted by the downturn in commodity prices, which totaled $998.4 million in FY1617.

The eligibility rate for EI regular benefits increased in 2016 after falling in the previous two years.

  • Among unemployed workers who had contributed EI premiums in the previous 12 months and had a valid job separation, 85.4% were eligible to receive EI regular benefits in 2016, up 2.6 percentage points from 82.8% in 2015.
  • The eligibility rate for men increased from 82.0% in 2015 to 87.2% in 2016. For women, the eligibility rate decreased from 84.3% in 2015 to 81.6% in 2016.

The number of new Work-Sharing claims established decreased significantly.

  • The number of new Work-Sharing claims established decreased by 41.8%, from a little over 20,500 claims in FY1516 to 11,900 claims in FY1617, reflecting the improved economic conditions observed in the reporting period. Approximately $43.4 million was paid in Work-Sharing benefits across Canada in FY1617.

The number of new EI special benefit claims and the total amount paid in EI special benefits increased over the previous year, with EI compassionate care benefits reporting the largest year-over-year percentage growth.

  • The number of new EI special claims established increased from 550,800 in FY1516 to 563,400 in FY1617 (+2.3%), and the total amount paid in EI special benefits rose to $5.5 billion (+4.5%) in FY1617.
  • EI compassionate care benefits reported the largest year-over-year percentage change in both new claims established (+29.5%) and in total amounts paid (+195.4%), coinciding with an increase in the benefit's entitlement from 6 weeks to 26 weeks as of January 3, 2016.

In FY1617, more clients returned to work following an Employment Benefit and Support Measure (EBSM) intervention, compared to the previous year.

  • A total of 751,872 clients (+2.4%) participated in approximately 1,179,000 interventions (+0.9%) across Canada.
  • The number of non-insured and former clients served increased by 7.1% and 3.1%, respectively, while the number of active claimants served declined by 1.5%.
  • Support Measure interventions grew at a faster pace (+1.0%) compared to Employment Benefit interventions (+0.4%).
  • The average length of an Employment Benefit intervention increased by six days, suggesting provinces and territories provided longer and more intensive supports, facilitated through the additional funding of $125 million under Budget 2016.
  • Additional funding and economic growth nationally enabled provinces and territories to improve the outcomes of their clients, as 4.8% more EI clients returned to employment after EBSM participation, compared to the previous year.
  • EBSM interventions help active clients' earnings move closer to national median wages and surpass low income thresholds.
  • Provinces and territories prioritized improving the job and labour market attachment of underrepresented groups; such as persons with disabilities, Indigenous people, recent immigrants, youth and older workers, as well as ensuring that employers can readily access a skilled workforce.

Service Canada continued to respond to a high volume of Employment Insurance claims in FY1617.

  • 2.96 million EI applications were received, representing an increase of 0.57% over the previous year.
  • Two new functionalities were added to the My Service Canada Account (MSCA) portal:
    • check status, which provides status updates to applicants; and
    • message center, a secure messaging system to quickly communicate or transmit claim specific information to applicants.
  • The EI claims Inventory Reduction Strategy reduced the number of outstanding claims by 75% from 471,000 to 122,000 claims by September 2016 and therefore met its targets.
  • Increased funding to the EI Specialized Call Centres, received through Budget 2016, supported hiring an increased number of agents and improved accessibility, Compared to the previous year, 3.4 million fewer high volume messages advised clients that all agents were busy, 500,000 more calls were answered, and wait times decreased with nearly half the calls being answered within 10 minutes (compared to a third of the calls last year).
  • The EI Service Quality Review (SQR), a nationwide consultation with the public, stakeholders and employees was led by three members of Parliament. The final report, including recommendations for service delivery improvements, was published on February 1, 2017.
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