Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem takes part in a photo opportunity at the Bank of Canada amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Monday, June 22, 2020. Macklem will deliver a speech and take part in a press conference at the Bank of Canada later today. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

COVID-19 to leave some lasting economic damage, Bank of Canada chief says

Canadians shouldn’t expect the short and sharp economic bounce-back expected over the coming months to last

The COVID-19 pandemic will leave some long-term economic damage that will only become clearer as the country moves further along a “prolonged and bumpy” course to recovery, Canada’s top central banker says.

In his first speech as governor, Tiff Macklem said the central bank expects to see growth in the third quarter of this year as people are called back to work and households resume some of their normal activities as restrictions ease.

But he quickly warned Canadians not to expect the short and sharp economic bounce-back expected over the coming months to last.

The combination of uneven reopenings across provinces and industries, the unknown course of consumer confidence, and unemployment rates will “likely inflict some lasting damage to demand and supply,” Macklem said in a speech Monday.

The exact extent of the damage in terms of the number of lost jobs and business closings won’t become clear until the country is further along the reopening phase.

And even when things start looking up, he said there is the potential for setbacks from new outbreaks.

“As we get through that reopening phase, though, we do think that the pace of the recovery will slow and that will reflect the reality that not everybody’s job is coming back,” Macklem said at a midday press conference.

“Some companies aren’t going to make it to the other side of this. New companies will form, existing companies will seize new opportunities, but that takes some time and that’s going to be a slower, bumpier process that is going to require ongoing support.”

ALSO READ: Travel will have to wait, despite calls from Canada’s business leaders, Trudeau says

The central bank’s support against the economic shock caused by the pandemic has been a drop to its policy interest rate to 0.25 per cent, which Macklem says is as low as it will go.

The Bank of Canada has also launched a purchasing program of bonds and government debt to help markets function and make borrowing cheaper for households and businesses. Such purchases, known as quantitative easing, also send a signal that the bank’s key rate “is likely to remain low for a long period,” he said in his speech.

The bank has a number of other tools it can use to deliver some monetary stimulus beyond the interest rate, Macklem said, including scaling its purchasing programs or providing more direct forward guidance on activities as other central banks have done.

“Going forward, the types of measures we take will depend on the circumstances. Different measures have different effectiveness in different circumstances. And they will be guided by the achievement of our inflation target,” he told reporters.

“We’ll be flexible, we’ll be resolute, we’re going to be innovative and we’re going to be determined.”

For the Bank of Canada, the impact of structurally low interest rates and the scale of the shock are having what Macklem said is “a profound impact” on the inflation-rate target.

The central bank targets an annual inflation rate of two per cent as measured by Statistics Canada’s consumer price index.

The basket of goods used to form the index has been shaken by a shift in consumer spending habits during the pandemic. People are spending less on gasoline, which usually receives a heavier weight in calculating inflation, as its price has plunged and the frequency of car travel has dropped. Spending is also down on travel, while grocery spending is up.

Last week, Statistics Canada reported the annual pace of inflation was -0.4 per cent in May, marking the second consecutive month for negative annual inflation after a reading of -0.2 per cent in April.

In his speech, Macklem said the bank expects supply to be restored faster than demand, which could put downward pressure on inflation. BMO’s Benjamin Reitzes wrote in a note that Macklem’s message suggests bank policy remaining easy for some time.

Next month, the Bank of Canada will provide “a central planning scenario” for the economy and inflation to help guide bank policy, as well as related risks — such as local, but not national, lockdowns.

“The central scenario would embody the reality that there probably will be some more local flair-ups,” Macklem said.

“Hopefully, with each flair-up we get better at targeting it, isolating it, and closing it down faster than the one before.”

READ MORE: Forecast says Canada’s economy will grow in 2021 if there isn’t another national shutdown

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CanadaCoronaviruseconomy

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

No games, no fans: Nelson Soccer adjusts to pandemic restrictions

The association has been offering skills training at Lakeside Park

COLUMN: Think local first more vital than ever

Tom Thomson writes about how the Chamber of Commerce is helping local business

New book reappraises Silvery Slocan mining rush

Peter Smith has published Silver Rush: British Columbia’s Silvery Slocan 1891-1900

21 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in B.C. as virus ‘silently circulates’ in broader community

Health officials urge British Columbians to enjoy summer safely as surge continues

Tough time for tree fruits as some B.C. farm products soar

Province reports record 2019 sales, largely due to cannabis

‘Let’s all do a self-check’: Okanagan mayor reacts to racist vandalism targeting local family

Home of Indo-Canadian family in Summerland was targeted on evening of July 13

Province agrees to multimillion-dollar payout for alleged victims of Kelowna social worker

Robert Riley Saunders is accused of misappropriating funds of children — often Indigenous — in his care

B.C. businessman David Sidoo gets 3 months behind bars for college admissions scam

Sidoo was sentenced for hiring someone take the SATs in place of his two sons

PHOTOS: Inside a newly-listed $22M mega-mansion on ALR land in B.C.

The large home, located on ALR land, is one of the last new mansions to legally be built on ALR land

Thousands of dollars in stolen rice found in B.C. warehouse

Police raid seizes $75,000 in ‘commercial scale’ theft case

COVID-19 gives B.C. First Nation rare chance to examine tourism’s impact on grizzly bears

With 40 infrared cameras deployed in Kitasoo-Xai’Xais territory, research will help develop tourism plan with least impact on bears

NDP wants Lower Mainland MLA removed from BC Liberal caucus for alleged homophobia

BC Liberal leader, some MLAs apologize for Christian magazine ads but Laurie Throness doubles down

Most Read