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Canada's big banks field half a million mortgage deferral requests

April 3 (Reuters) - Canada’s biggest banks have received nearly half a million requests from homeowners to hold off mortgage payments as the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic deepens, according to the Canadian Bankers’ Association.

Since the banks announced a plan to provide financial relief over two weeks ago, almost 500,000 requests to skip or defer mortgage payments have been completed or are being processed, up from 213,000 on March 26, according to a statement from the association seen by Reuters.

The “big six” lenders - Royal Bank of Canada, TD Bank, Scotiabank, Bank of Montreal, CIBC and National Bank of Canada - announced the coordinated effort on March 17 to offer mortgage relief to customers suffering pay disruption.

“The country’s six largest banks have deferred more than 10% of the mortgages in their portfolio,” the statement said.

On Thursday, Toronto-Dominion Bank Chief Executive Officer Bharat Masrani said the bank has approved 60,000 or “virtually all” the requests for mortgage deferrals received so far as part of efforts to ease the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on borrowers. (Reporting by Nichola Saminather in Toronto and Bharath Manjesh in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)