Fewer Canadians were eligible for employment insurance in 2010 than 2009, according to a report from Statistics Canada.
In 2010, there were 913,000 unemployed individuals who made contributions to Canada's EI program in 2010, down from 1.04 million one year earlier.
About 746,000 of the unemployed had a job separation that met the EI program criteria. Of those, 626,000 or 83.9 per cent were eligible to receive regular EI benefits because they had worked enough hours. This was down from 86.2 per cent in 2009 but was similar to rates observed prior to the economic downturn.
Furthermore, in 2010, 167,000 or 18.2 per cent of unemployed EI contributors left their job for a reason not deemed valid by the EI program. This share was similar to that of 2009 but lower than shares observed before the labour market downturn, said Statistics Canada.
In 2010, there were two main reasons for not contributing to EI: non-insurable employment (meaning self-employed) or not having worked in the previous 12 months (including those who have never worked).
Of the 1.41 million unemployed people in Canada in 2010, 35.3 per cent had not contributed to EI and, as a result, were not eligible for regular benefits, according to Statistics Canada.
The 2010 non-contribution rate of 35.3 per cent was higher than the rates observed from 2003 to 2009, mainly due to a notable increase among the unemployed who had not worked in the previous 12 months, which includes the labour market downturn and the early recovery period.
In 2010, 11.5 per cent of unemployed people had not worked for at least one year, up from 7.5 per cent in 2009, according to the Labour Force Survey.
EI eligibility unchanged for women, down for men
Of the 746,000 unemployed individuals who had contributed to the EI program and had a valid job separation in 2010, 477,000 or 64 per cent were men. In 2010, 83.6 per cent of these men were eligible for regular EI benefits, down from 87.3 per cent in 2009.
Among the 269,000 unemployed women who were contributors with a valid job separation, 84.4 per cent were eligible for EI benefits in 2010, unchanged from one year earlier, said Statistics Canada.
Among women who were EI contributors, 22.7 per cent had quit their job for a reason that deemed them unable to collect regular benefits, compared with 15.5 per cent for men. This difference was also seen in 2009.
In 2010, 40.4 per cent of unemployed women had not contributed to EI, compared with 31.7 per cent of their male counterparts. The proportion for women was higher because they were more likely not to have had paid employment in the previous 12 months. The proportion of non-insurable employment was similar for both women and men.
EI eligibility down in most provinces
Between 2009 and 2010, the share of unemployed contributors with a valid job separation fell in every province except Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Rates in 2010 ranged from 77.7 per cent in British Columbia, the lowest in the province since 2005, to 94.3 per cent in Nova Scotia, said Statistics Canada.
The provinces with the highest proportions of unemployed contributors with invalid job separations were Saskatchewan (22.2 per cent) and Manitoba (21.2 per cent). The Atlantic provinces had the lowest proportions.
In 2010, 43.4 per cent of unemployed workers in Ontario had not contributed to the EI program, the highest share among the provinces. The vast majority of these non-contributors had not worked in the previous 12 months. Alberta had the second-highest rate of non-contributors, at 37.9 per cent, while the Atlantic provinces had the lowest rates.
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