Community services officials on P.E.I. are preparing for an anticipated increase in the number of Islanders applying for social assistance.

A pilot project, first offered in 2004, that gave five extra weeks of employment insurance coverage in high unemployment areas, was not renewed by the federal government and ran out at the end of last summer. That means seasonal workers on P.E.I. who started collecting EI in the fall will see their benefits end later this month or in early April.

Bob Creed, director of social programs with the P.E.I. Department of Community Services, said calls have already starting coming in from people asking if they would qualify for social assistance when their EI runs out.

"The Charlottetown office is experiencing a little more volume than what we would expect normally," said Bob Creed.

"At this point in time people are just simply inquiring as to what programs and services are available."

Creed said so far the actual number of applications hasn't gone up. Provincial officials will be monitoring the situation closely over the next couple of months for any increases.

There are about 5,600 people on P.E.I. currently receiving social assistance. Creed said that gives the province a little room, because that is about 100 fewer cases than last year.