Updated at 10:15 a.m. (EDT): Canada lost a record 1 million jobs in March amid the economic fallout from the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The national unemployment rate increased by 2.2 percent in March and now sits at 7.8 percent, according to a Statistics Canada report released early Thursday.
The report said the staggering increase “can be reasonably attributed to COVID-19” and represents “the largest one-month increase on record.”
Almost all job losses in March can be attributed to the temporary layoffs, the report said.
Employment fell by 3.3 percent to 58.5 percent, the lowest rate since April 1997, according to StatCan. The employment rate represents the proportion of people aged 15 or older with jobs.
Young people aged 15 to 24 were hit the hardest, with employment decreasing by more than 15 percent to 49.1 percent—the lowest on record since Canada started compiling comparable data in 1976.
The employment rate for women between the ages of 25 and 54 declined by 5 percent—twice as much as men (2 percent) in the same core age group.
The loss of part-time jobs accounts for the stark job declines among youth and women, the report said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced several measures to help struggling Canadians, including a 75 percent wage subsidy so that businesses can keep their employees on payroll and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) that launched on Monday.
Since mid-March, nearly 4 million Canadians have applied for financial aid, with at least 1.7 million people applying for the CERB this week alone.
The government tried to stagger CERB application days for Canadians, so that the system wouldn’t become overwhelmed. On Thursday, anyone born between October and December is encouraged to apply.
As of Friday, anyone can apply for the CERB at all times.
More COVID-19 projections
As cases of COVID-19 inch towards 20,000, Canada finally released early federal projections.
The severity of the COVID-19 pandemic could result in 11,000 to 22,000 Canadian deaths total.
“Where we end up in that range depends on the actions taken,” Tam said.
The country could see between 22,580 and 31,850 total cases and between 500 and 700 deaths by April 16, Canada’s chief medical officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, told reporters early Thursday.
Tam said it’s too early to tell how many Canadians will get infected, adding that models are “imperfect” and subject to change as the pandemic continues.
“We don’t know if we’ve reached a peak in Canada yet,” Tam said. “We will not know we’ve passed the peak until retrospectively we can tell.”
That means, Tam doesn’t know when physical distancing measures will be lifted and wants Canadians to remain “cautious.”
Trudeau said Canada has to grapple with the “new normal” until a vaccine is created, but it’s too early to gauge the timeline for severe physical distancing.
The federal government was able to release projections because several provinces have publicized their own forecasts.
As cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) inch towards 20,000, provinces are finally able to assess how well their fight against the virus is going.
Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador published their data and models on Wednesday, with officials expecting thousands of new cases to show up over the coming weeks and months.
Saskatchewan expects up to 400,000 infections, with anywhere between 3,000 and 8,300 deaths by COVID-19’s peak, but officials said it’s too soon to tell when that will happen.
There are currently 271 cases of the coronavirus in Saskatchewan and three deaths.
Newfoundland and Labrador did not not offer death projections, but the provincial government said its intensive care unit capacity will be overloaded by June if cases continue to climb.
The province expects cases to peak in the fall.
British Columbia is faring better than other provinces as its “curve”—the graph that shows the rate at which new infections are arising—is beginning to flatten. Hospitalizations peaked on April 2 and levelled off over the weekend.
The number of new cases has been decreasing from day to day.
Doug Ford’s patience has “run thin”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford says his “patience has run thin” with the province’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) testing because it is only administering 5,000 tests per day—half as many as other provinces.
“No more excuses,” Ford told reporters on Wednesday. “We need to start doing 13,000 every single day.”
The province tests half as many people as Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia, despite having the second highest number of cases (5,276) and deaths (174) after Quebec.
Ford said the statistic is “unacceptable” and he wants all emergency frontline workers—healthcare staff, police—getting tested for the virus.
Almost 20,000 COVID-19 cases in Canada
As of Wednesday morning, the country had 19,289 probable or confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 435 deaths.
Here is the breakdown of confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases across Canada:
British Columbia: 1,336
Newfoundland and Labrador: 232
New Brunswick: 108
Nova Scotia: 342
Prince Edward Island: 24
Northwest Territories: 5
Late Tuesday, the global total of confirmed COVID-19 cases neared 1.5 million, with close to 80,000 deaths.
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