Toronto skyline in financial district
© Elijah Lovkoff / 123RF Stock Photo

The Canadian Bankers Association says the country’s six largest banks have allowed customers to defer payments on more than 10% of the mortgages in their portfolios as borrowers affected by Covid-19 seek financial help.

The association says almost 500,000 requests for mortgage deferrals or to skip a payment have been completed or are in process.

Canadian banks announced a mortgage deferral program over two weeks ago in a move to help those hurt by the steps taken to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The six largest banks said they would allow customers to defer mortgage payments for up to six months among other changes.

More than two million Canadians applied for employment insurance in recent weeks as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic as businesses shut their doors or scale back operations.

The federal government has responded with the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit as well as billions in new spending to help the economy and fight the virus.