Ottawa: Half a million people have applied for employment insurance in Canada in the last four days following layoffs due to the economic impact of coronavirus pandemic that has plunged the country into its worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression of 1932.
Last year, the figure stood at 27,000 applications, reports Efe news.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that the magnitude of employment insurance applications was “historic”.
“Over the past week, Service Canada and many government agencies have received a historic number of calls from concerned Canadians,” Trudeau said at a press conference.
“I know people are anxious to get the help they deserve and our government is working as fast as possible to support them,” he said, describing the situation as “unprecedented.”
Economist Trevor Tombe of the University of Calgary in Canada said on Twitter that the number of petitions was the highest recorded in a week in the country’s history and accounted for 2.6 per cent of its total employment.
Tombe said that during the worst moment of the Great Depression in 1932, the magnitude of economic losses in terms of percentage was similar but was recorded in a month and not a week as is the case currently.
Trudeau had announced on Wednesday that the government would inject C$56.5 billion, which amounts to around three percent of the country’s GDP, in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
The authorities have assured that Canada is in a strong financial condition and is prepared to continue injecting money to stabilize the situation.
On Friday, Air Canada, the country’s main airline, announced a temporary layoff of more than 5,000 employees, affecting 60 per cent of flight attendants on its payroll.
Automobile manufacturers General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, and Honda, which have vehicle assembly plants in the country, have announced suspending production at least until the end of the month.
The layoffs have not just affected the manufacturing sector.
Well-known entertainment company and circus producer Cirque du Soleil temporarily laid-off 4,679 people, or most of its staff, owing to the cancellation of their shows.
According to the latest records, the number of COVID-19 cases in Canada stands at 925, and the number of deaths is 12.