Numbers released from Statistics Canada yesterday reveal unemployed Albertans are flocking to the government for assistance in record numbers.

Employment insurance claims in Alberta are up a whopping 236 per cent since October 2008, the biggest increase in the country.

Across Canada in that time period, the number of EI beneficiaries has more than doubled, with nearly 780,000 people collecting benefits in May.

According to Statistics Canada, the number of beneficiaries more than tripled in Edmonton in a year’s time, from 4,300 to 16,000.

At the end of May, there were 57,000 Albertans receiving assistance, after the employment rate rose from 3.7 per cent to 6.6 per cent.

The labour market in Alberta took a major blow at the onset of the economic downturn, with massive staff cuts in manufacturing, construction, retail and wholesale trade, professional, scientific and technical services and the natural resources sector.

The volume of Canadians drawing insurance has never been as high since data collection began in 1997.

The national unemployment rate is 8.4 per cent. Almost 800,000 Canadian families are relying on Employment Insurance to live.