OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there have been 500,000 applications for Employment Insurance this week so far, compared with just 27,000 the same week last year.
This comes after he announced additional measures to help Canadians amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Over past week, Service Canada and many government agencies have received an historic number of calls from concerned Canadians,” Trudeau said.
— Martin MacMahon (@martinmacmahon) March 20, 2020
“I know people are anxious to get the help they deserve and our government is working as fast as possible to support them.”
“This is, of course, an unprecedented situation, and it’s putting a lot of pressure on our system, but we’re on it,” he added.
“Thousands of public servants are working around the clock to help you.”
Trudeau said he understands the past week has been challenging for Canadians.
“To deal with this crisis, we need everyone – citizens, businesses, and governments – to come together and do their part.”
Trudeau also announced a reciprocal agreement between Canada and the United States under which they will now be sending back back migrants who attempt to cross illegally anywhere at the border.
Trudeau called it an exceptional measure that will protect Canadians amid the pandemic. It addresses concerns about the difficulty of screening refugee claimants for the new virus.
Thousands of migrants have fled north to Canada since 2017.
Trudeau also confirmed that all non-essential travel between Canada and the United States will end at midnight Friday. The two countries announced the measure earlier this week.
Trudeau further announced a new strategy to make it easier for companies to help out during the pandemic.
The federal plan to mobilize industry to fight COVID-19 is meant to ensure manufacturers in Canada can quickly produce and scale up production of what’s needed. such as masks, ventilators and hand sanitizers.
It will also provide support to companies such as automakers that want to retool manufacturing facilities to cater to emerging needs.
“Our health care professionals really need support, so our government will help these company shift production from auto parts to medical supplies,” Trudeau said.