SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- A wave of New Brunswickers who have lost their jobs are looking to the province's one-time emergency benefit for help.

In the few days since it launched, tens of thousands have applied for the benefit and the province says it's working around the clock to get the payments processed.

Since launching on Monday, there have been over 54,000 recorded registrations for the program, funneled through the Canadian Red Cross.

Bill Lawlor, who works for the Red Cross in Saint John, said those applications are being reviewed to see if the people are eligible for the benefit.

This money – a one-time benefit of $900 - is supposed to help bridge the gap between losing your job or closing your business on or after March 15, until federal money becomes available.

The Red Cross says the first provincial payments went out on Friday.

"As soon as they get through the system, as quickly as we can turn it around, and through our system process that electronic funds transfer, payment will be issued, or a cheque will be cut," Lawlor said.

In an emailed statement, the province says the system is working well, but it's taking time to process this large volume of applications.

Provincial Green Party leader David Coon isn't surprised by the number of registrations given the number of jobs lost in the province.

"I'm just glad that New Brunswick was able to step up and provide this bridge funding to tide people over before the federal money kicks in for them," Coon said.

Today, it was announced post-secondary students directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic may also be eligible for a one-time payment of $750 from the province.

Those funds will be distributed by post-secondary institutions based upon eligibility criteria.

On the federal side, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today the government would be supplementing the GST credit.

"We had said that in May, every qualifying adult would receive up to $300, with $150 dollars for each child, but I can now confirm that help is coming sooner. This month, in April, instead."