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Statistics Canada reports 659,700 people received regular Employment Insurance benefits in December.

That's 9,400 (or 1.4 per cent) fewer than in November and it's the third straight monthly decrease.

The number of beneficiaries declined in every province and territory, except the Northwest Territories.

The agency reports 249,000 initial and renewal claims were received, a modest increase of 970 (0.4 per cent).

The number of claims increased by 3,500 (4.9 per cent) in Quebec, while in Ontario the number of claims rose by 970 (1.2 per cent).

In all other provinces, fewer people filed a claim in December or no change was noted.

Decreases in claims were most pronounced in Saskatchewan (down 8.1 per cent) and New Brunswick (down 5.6).

The number of regular beneficiaries declined in every province in December, the third straight monthly decrease for nine of the 10 provinces. Nova Scotia was the sole exception.