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Half a million applications submitted for Employment Insurance: Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question on a teleconference as reporters call in to ask questions during a news conference at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Thursday, March 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

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 the past week, Service Canada and many government agencies have received a historic number of calls from concerned Canadians,” Trudeau said.

“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.