Bank of Canada keeps key interest rate target at 0.25%, early data shows economy plunged

The central bank says the downturn tied to COVID-19 will be the worst on record

The Bank of Canada is keeping its key interest rate target on hold at 0.25 per cent, saying this morning that it is effectively as low as it can go to combat the economic impacts of COVID-19.

The central bank says the downturn tied to COVID-19 will be the worst on record. Preliminary data from Statistics Canada today showed economic activity collapsed in March as it dropped a record nine per cent.

The pandemic has forced companies to close and workers to stay at home as much as possible in a massive public health effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, leading to steep and sudden drops in business activity and consumer spending.

The central bank’s economic outlook also released this morning says the speed of the anticipated rebound rests on the shoulders of containment efforts to bring the pandemic under control.

If conditions improve quickly, the economic shock is likely to be “abrupt and deep but relatively short-lived” and followed by a strong rebound for most, but not all, sectors of the economy.

A more severe scenario would likely see a “significant number” of businesses closing for good and longer spells of unemployment as workers look for new jobs.

READ MORE: More older Canadians die as COVID-19 toll passes 800; economy could shrink 6.2%

READ MORE: March job losses just ‘a tiny snapshot’ of full impact of COVID-19

The Canadian Press


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