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Number drawing EI benefits in Western Canada grows rapidly

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The number of people in B.C. and Alberta receiving regular employment insurance benefits grew rapidly in March, with construction workers being among the hardest hit.

The number of people in B.C. and Alberta receiving regular employment insurance benefits grew rapidly in March, with construction workers being among the hardest hit.

Statistics Canada reported that the number of regular employment insurance beneficiaries in Alberta climbed by 32.1 per cent to 42,200 in March.

This marks the fastest monthly increase for that province since comparable data have been available.

The number of beneficiaries more than doubled in almost every large centre in Alberta and tripled in Wood Buffalo between March 2008 and March 2009.

In Calgary, the number of regular beneficiaries grew by 187 per cent to 15,400, while in Edmonton, it was up 185.6 per cent to 14,700.

The drop in employment in recent months has mostly hit construction, trade, manufacturing and professional, scientific and technical services.

The number of Albertans receiving benefits has risen at an increasing pace every month since October 2008, bringing the increase over the five months to 131.1 per cent.

The number of people receiving regular benefits in B.C. in March increased by 26.7 per cent to 82,200, also marking the fastest monthly increase for that province.

Since October 2008, the number has increased by 80.5 per cent.

Sharp increases in the number of people receiving regular benefits were also observed in B.C. between March 2008 and March 2009.

The decrease in employment in B.C. affected a large number of sectors, including construction, manufacturing, forestry and logging, and transportation and warehousing.

According to Statistics Canada, 681,400 people across the country were receiving regular Employment Insurance benefits in March.

by &Mdash; Richard Gilbert

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