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EI Canada , Erin Weir , Canadian Taxpayers Federation , Ei , Ei Cash Cow , Ei Recipients , Employment Insurance , Employment Insurance Canada , Number Of Ei Recipients , Stascan , Canada Business News

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A Service Canada office. The number of people receiving EI dropped in May, even as the number of unemployed grew.

Some taxpayers groups say Canadas employment insurance system is turning into little more than a cash cow for the federal government, a tax disguised as an insurance premium.

The latest data on EI and unemployment likely wont assuage their concerns.

The number of people receiving EI benefits in May dropped by 2.3 per cent from the month before , StatsCan reported Thursday. There were slightly more than 504,000 people collecting EI.

Now that should be good news, indicative of a strengthening job market. But StatsCan data shows that the number of unemployed people actually grew in May , by 1.1 per cent. There were 1.3 million Canadians listed as unemployed.

United Steelworkers economist Erin Weir says this likely has to do with the Harper governments changes to the system, which have made the program less generous.

Under new EI rules that took effect this year , recipients job searches are more strictly monitored, and they are expected, in certain circumstances, to accept pay up to 30 per cent below what they had previously earned.

Cutbacks to Service Canada staffing and locations have increased wait times, with applicants typically waiting two months to receive benefits a long time for households without income.

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Number of job-seekers per job in March, 2014, according to StatsCan. The higher the number, the worse the job situation.

Newfoundland - 12.8

Number of job-seekers per job in March, 2014, according to StatsCan. The higher the number, the worse the job situation.

Number of job-seekers per available job, according to StatsCan. The higher the number, the worse the job situation.

New Brunswick - 10.6

Number of job-seekers per available job, according to StatsCan. The higher the number, the worse the job situation.

Number of job-seekers per available job, according to StatsCan. The higher the number, the worse the job situation.

Ontario - 8.8

Number of job-seekers per available job, according to StatsCan. The higher the number, the worse the job situation.

Number of job-seekers per available job, according to StatsCan. The higher the number, the worse the job situation.

Saskatchewan - 3.5

Number of job-seekers per available job, according to StatsCan. The higher the number, the worse the job situation.

Number of job-seekers per available job, according to StatsCan. The higher the number, the worse the job situation.

BEST: Alberta - 2.4

Number of job-seekers per available job, according to StatsCan. The higher the number, the worse the job situation.

NEXT: JOB VACANCIES BY INDUSTRY

WORST: Construction - 11.5

Number of job-seekers per job in March, 2014, according to StatsCan. The higher the number, the worse the job situation.

Number of job-seekers per job in March, 2014, according to StatsCan. The higher the number, the worse the job situation.

Retail - 6.0

Number of job-seekers per job in March, 2014, according to StatsCan. The higher the number, the worse the job situation.

Number of job-seekers per job in March, 2014, according to StatsCan. The higher the number, the worse the job situation.

Arts, entertainment, recreation - 4.9

Number of job-seekers per job in March, 2014, according to StatsCan. The higher the number, the worse the job situation.

Number of job-seekers per job in March, 2014, according to StatsCan. The higher the number, the worse the job situation.

Transportation, warehousing - 3.0

Number of job-seekers per job in March, 2014, according to StatsCan. The higher the number, the worse the job situation.

Number of job-seekers per job in March, 2014, according to StatsCan. The higher the number, the worse the job situation.

"Other services" - 2.6

Includes home repair and maintenance, laundry, pet care, photo finishing and other activities. Number of job-seekers per job in March, 2014, according to StatsCan. The higher the number, the worse the job situation.

Number of job-seekers per job in March, 2014, according to StatsCan. The higher the number, the worse the job situation.

Finance, insurance - 1.6

Number of job-seekers per job in March, 2014, according to StatsCan. The higher the number, the worse the job situation.

Number of job-seekers per job in March, 2014, according to StatsCan. The higher the number, the worse the job situation.

Data not available: Mining, oil and gas

StatsCan says data for this sector was too unreliable to be published.

The federal government should instead improve the accessibility and duration of benefits for workers who paid into the program and are unemployed through no fault of their own, Weir wrote at the Progressive Economics blog.

Weir calculates that little more than a third 37.5 per cent of unemployed Canadians actually receive EI payments after losing their job.

Thats part of the reason why anti-tax groups are also criticizing EI, arguing it has become a cash cow that does little more than fatten government coffers.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) says the government collected $3.3 billion more in revenue from EI in 2012, and that number grew to $4.2 billion in 2013 .

Money collected from EI used to go into a fund separate from general government revenues. But in 2010, the Harper government raided the funds $57 billion surplus and added it to general government revenue.

That resulted in a lawsuit by a group of Quebec labour groups, who argued the government didnt have the authority to raid the fund. The Supreme Court disagreed, ruling earlier this month that Ottawa has the constitutional authority to add EI payments to general revenue.
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