07/21/2016 02:36 EDT | Updated 07/21/2016 02:59 EDT

Alberta EI Sees Spike In Applicants After Fort McMurray Fire

Wood Buffalo applicants made up a third of the increase.

COLE BURSTON via Getty Images
A Budweiser beer can sits on a burned out car outside of downtown Fort McMurray, Alberta on June 4, 2016, a month after raging forest fires sparked a mass evacuation of the city and surrounding areas. / AFP / Cole Burston (Photo credit should read COLE BURSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

CALGARY — The scale of work disruptions from the Fort McMurray wildfire is being born out in employment insurance numbers from Alberta that show a record level of applicants.

Statistics Canada says EI applications soared 70 per cent from April to May for a 22,800 increase in what it says is the largest monthly gain in any province since it started tracking the numbers in 1997.

Actual EI recipients jumped 12.1 per cent in May from a month earlier to 77,800, the largest increase since June 2009.

Huge increase in Wood Buffalo

The Wood Buffalo area that was hardest hit by the wildfire made up a third of the increase after seeing a 142 per cent spike to 4,500 recipients, while Edmonton saw an 8.4 per cent jump and Calgary a 6.8 per cent rise.

Alberta's numbers made up most of the national increase in EI claims, which were up 23,300 to 264,200 for May.

Overall, 544,900 people received regular employment insurance in Canada in May, up by 0.9 per cent from April.

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