Adequacy of federal emergency aid measures to be tested by jobless numbers

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OTTAWA - The adequacy of federal emergency benefits to help Canadians weather the COVID-19 crisis is bound to come under scrutiny today as the country gets the first real glimpse of the economic devastation wrought by the pandemic.

Statistics Canada is to release the jobless numbers for April _ the first full month in which the economy was virtually shut down while all but essential workers stayed home to prevent the spread of the deadly virus that causes COVID-19.

One million were thrown out of work in March _ a record-breaking jobs loss that saw the unemployment rate shoot up 2.2 points to 7.8 per cent _ and that was before the full force of the pandemic was felt in Canada.

Non-essential businesses only began to shut down in mid-March and are only now taking the tentative, first steps towards re-opening.

The Trudeau government has shovelled some $150 billion into benefits to help cushion the blow, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, a 75 per cent wage subsidy, commercial rent relief and a host of targeted measures to help particularly hard hit individuals and sectors, including students, farmers, artists and front-line essential workers.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to use today's daily briefing on the pandemic responding to the calamitous jobless numbers and highlight all the ways the federal government has tried to help.