A study released by the Fraser Institute, a public policy think tank, looked at 56 provincial employment insurance regions, and found that in April and May workers across Canada had to work, on average, a minimum of 627.5 hours to qualify for 17.3 weeks of EI benefits.
By June, workers needed only 491.3 hours of work, on average, to qualify for 23.5 weeks of EI benefits, the study states.
The study says that, using a three-month rolling average, if current levels of unemployment hold, by August/September workers will need 453.1 hours of work to qualify for 25.6 weeks of EI benefits.
The study concluded the impact of these changes on Atlantic Canada will mean the unemployment in Atlantic urban areas will match what is typical in Atlantic rural areas, which may have a damaging effect on urban Atlantic labour markets.
According to the Fraser Institute report, if current levels of unemployment hold for the EI three-month rolling average, unemployment in urban areas of Atlantic Canada will average 12.9 per cent, requiring an average of 437.5 hours of work to collect 25 weeks of EI benefits, compared to 15.2 per cent average unemployment in rural areas, requiring an average of 431.7 hours of work to qualify for 28 weeks of EI benefits.