The number of people receiving regular employment insurance (EI) benefits edged up 4,200 or 0.8 per cent to 544,700 in December, according to Statistics Canada.
The number of beneficiaries remained relatively stable during the final quarter of the year, but was down 109,400, or 16.7 per cent, compared with 12 months earlier.
There were more people receiving benefits in six provinces, with the largest percentage increases occurring in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario. The largest decline was observed in Newfoundland and Labrador.
To receive EI benefits, individuals must first submit a claim. The number of claims provides an indication of the number of people who could become beneficiaries.
Nationally, the number of initial and renewal claims was essentially unchanged, at 238,000 in December.
Provincially, the number of claims declined 4.8 per cent in Saskatchewan and 1.8 per cent in Quebec. In Newfoundland and Labrador, claims rose 2.7 per cent, while in Alberta, they increased 1.9 per cent. There were no notable changes in the other provinces.
The number of people receiving regular EI benefits in December rose in six provinces, with the largest percentage increases occurring in Manitoba (3.7 per cent), Saskatchewan (3.6 per cent) and Ontario (2.6 per cent).
At the same time, the number of beneficiaries in Newfoundland and Labrador fell 2.1 per cent, the third consecutive monthly decline in the province.
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