April 17, 2020 / 5:16 PM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-Canadian banks have processed 670,000 mortgage deferrals in first month

(Adds numbers of credit card deferrals, business loans)

By Nichola Saminather

TORONTO, April 17 (Reuters) - Canadian banks processed more than 670,000 mortgage deferrals or skipped payments in the month since announcing a measure to help consumers weather the economic hit from the COVID-19 outbreak, the Canadian Bankers Association said on Friday.

That represents about 14% of 13 lenders’ home loan books, and the vast majority of requests were approved, the industry group said in an e-mailed statement.

Most of the deferrals came in the first two weeks, when the lenders received half a million requests.

Canadian lenders announced a coordinated effort on March 17 to offer payment holidays on mortgages and other loans to customers suffering income disruptions as businesses shut down in response to the pandemic and social distancing measures.

Canada’s Big Six banks - Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Bank of Montreal, Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and National Bank of Canada - and HSBC Canada have also completed almost 290,000 credit card deferral requests in the past month, according to the CBA.

Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau said late on Thursday that 220,000 businesses have applied for emergency interest-free loans equal to C$8.8 billion ($6.3 billion). He did not say how many had been approved.

Banks began taking applications on April 9 for the loans, which are interest-free, with a quarter forgivable if repaid by the end of 2022.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the payroll cost requirement for eligibility for the loans had been widened, to between C$20,000 and C$1.5 million in 2019, from the original C$50,000 to C$1 million. ($1 = 1.4028 Canadian dollars) (Reporting By Nichola Saminather; Editing by Alistair Bell and Dan Grebler)

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