The coronavirus pandemic has forced more than half a million Canadians to file for employment insurance this week as measures like social distancing have started to hit the workplace.
“We received over 500,000 applications so far this week, compared to just under 27,000 applications for the same week last year,” said the Prime Minister in a recent press release. Trudeau said that Service Canada agencies have received a “historic” amount of calls this week according to Global News.
“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. Thousands of public servants are working around the clock to help you.”
Canadians who are having difficulties accessing the application system for EI programs have been told to be patient and keep trying according to a spokesperson for Employment and Social Development Canada. There have been a number of delays as a result of their systems being overwhelmed by the spike in traffic however the agency says such issues are only "temporary."
“ESDC is prioritizing capacity to ensure critical service delivery requirements are met. Ongoing improvements are being made on a daily basis to ensure quality and timely service to Canadians,” a spokesperson said.
A total of $82-billion has been announced for funding the new measures to assist workers and businesses while the pandemic passes.
The federal government is proposing to extend certain benefits to those who are not eligible for employment insurance, as everyone is expected to self-isolate and many workers will have to take care of their families.
The pandemic has led to many businesses being shut down, in some provinces under government orders yet some retailers are hiring more staff to keep up with the growing demand such as food delivery services.
Walmart Canada is set to hire an additional 10,000 employees to work in its stores and distribution centres in preparation for existing employees who may get sick in the future.