The unequal economic effects of the pandemic are on full display in Statistics Canada’s latest data on employment insurance (EI) filings in May.
The agency reported that the number of EI recipients jumped by 5.2% in May, with an additional 83,000 workers receiving benefits.
The increase came as “tighter public health measures continued or were introduced in several provinces,” it noted.
The rise in the number of EI recipients was entirely due to an 10.5% jump in the number of women getting EI benefits, which represented an increase of 88,000, StatsCan said, while there was little change among men.
Women now account for over half of regular EI beneficiaries, compared with about one-third in February 2020 before the pandemic hit, StatsCan reported.
It also noted that 41.8% of EI recipients in May worked in the in-person services sectors — including accommodation and food services, retail trade, and culture and recreation — that have been hard hit by the pandemic.
Additionally, the proportion of workers suffering long-term unemployment has jumped during the pandemic.
StatsCan reported that, in May, 28.9% of unemployed people had been without work for at least 27 weeks, compared with 15.6% in February 2020.
Similarly, the EI data showed that almost two-thirds (65.4%) of regular EI recipients in May had received benefits in at least seven of the last 12 months, up from 16.1% pre-pandemic.
Earlier this week, the federal government announced it will hold consultations next month on improving the EI system. However, any changes that result wouldn’t be implemented until late 2022 at the earliest, the government said.