OTTAWA —
Canadians will get a double-barrelled blast of grim news today: the first jobless numbers since the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered businesses from coast to coast as well as the first national picture of how bad the crisis could get and how long it could last.

Federal officials are to hold a technical briefing revealing their best and worst-case projections for the number of Canadians who are likely to get infected by the deadly virus, the number who are likely to die and how long it will take to contain it.

Statistics Canada, meanwhile, is poised to release the first jobless numbers since the pandemic started tossing millions of Canadians out of work.

The unemployment rate stood at 5.6 per cent in February.

But since those heady days, unemployment has skyrocketed as governments ordered all but essential businesses to close and their workers to stay home in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.

The government says it received 966,000 applications for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit on Monday alone — the first day a new web portal for applications was open.



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