OTTAWA _ Statistics Canada says the number of people collecting employment insurance in April fell to the lowest level in at least 21 years.
The federal agency says 453,100 people received the regular wage insurance payments in April, down 100,200 or 18 per cent since April 2017, and the lowest number since comparable data became available in 1997.
The reduction in beneficiaries was reflected in every province and coincides with a reduction in the national unemployment rate from 6.5 per cent to a record low of 5.8 per cent over same 12-month period.
StatsCanada also points out there was real gross domestic product growth in every province in 2017 for the first time since 2011.
The agency says the sharpest year-over-year decline in EI recipients took place in Alberta, where the 56,300 people collecting benefits was down nearly 29 per cent from a year earlier.
Other provinces with big declines included Quebec, down 24 per cent; British Columbia, 22 per cent; and Ontario and New Brunswick, each down by 16 per cent.
Changes in the number of beneficiaries are affected by the number of new claims, recipients who go back to work and the number who have exhausted their benefits.