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Statistics Canada reports 668,100 people received regular Employment Insurance benefits in March, down 24,200 from February.

It was their sixth straight monthly decline.

The number of beneficiaries fell in most provinces, with the largest declines in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.

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The agency says nearly half the increase in beneficiaries that occurred during the labour market downturn has been offset by declines since June 2009 when the number of beneficiaries peaked.

It reports 229,000 initial and renewal claims were received in March, down 6,300 (2.7 per cent) from February.

Claims have been declining since their peak in May, 2009.

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