The Bank of Canada held its benchmark interest rate steady at 0.25 per cent on Wednesday and said it thinks the economic impact of COVID-19 on the world’s economy “appears to have peaked.”
Canada’s central bank has dropped its rate dramatically since the pandemic began, cutting its rate from 1.75 per cent in late February to 0.25 per cent barely a month later.
The bank’s rate influences the rates that Canadian borrowers and savers get from their banks on things like mortgages and bank accounts. The central bank cut its rate in an attempt to encourage borrowing and investing to stimulate the economy, but those rate cuts weren’t the only thing it did to try to buttress the economy from the unprecedented hit of COVID-19.
The bank also started a number of bond and debt-buying programs in order to make sure there is enough cash in the system.
It announced on Wednesday it will tinker with two of them because things are starting to look up, but it is still buying up government bonds at a record-setting pace in order to make sure banks have enough cash on hand to lend to credit worthy borrowers.
“The Bank’s programs to improve market function are having their intended effect,” the bank said. “After significant strains in March, short-term funding conditions have improved. Therefore, the Bank is reducing the frequency of its term repo operations to once per week, and its program to purchase bankers’ acceptances to bi-weekly operations.”
Bank of Montreal economist Benjamin Reitzes noted that “both of these operations have seen much less take-up (or none at all) of late.”
“The bank stands ready to adjust these programs if market conditions warrant,” the central bank said. “Meanwhile, its other programs to purchase federal, provincial, and corporate debt are continuing at their present frequency and scope.”
In barely two months, the feverish pace of bond buying to buttress the economy has ballooned the bank’s balance sheet by $125 billion, Toronto-Dominion Bank economist James Orlando calculated.
Slowing the frequency of new purchases is likely to bring that number down a little, but stimulus measures will remain in place for a while yet, CIBC economist Royce Mendes says.
“The bank had accumulated a large swath of short-term securities on its balance sheet, but now that those programs can wind down, the composition of the bank’s balance sheet is likely to change.”
Worst case scenario avoided for now
The reason for the bank’s cautious optimism is the bank’s belief that Canada has avoided the worst-case economic scenario that it painted in April.
The central bank now expects GDP to decline between 10 and 20 per cent compared with the fourth quarter of 2019, less than the 15 to 30 per cent decline forecast in April.
“Massive policy responses in advanced economies have helped to replace lost income and cushion the effect of economic shutdowns,” the bank said in explaining its rate decision. “Financial conditions have improved, and commodity prices have risen in recent weeks after falling sharply earlier this year.
The rate decision means that Canadians with variable rate mortgages shouldn’t expect any changes to their lending rate any time soon.
“The historically low mortgage rates currently in the market are here to stay until the economy approaches the level it was at before the pandemic started,” said James Laird, co-founder of Ratehub.ca and president of mortgage brokerage CanWise Financial.
“This means that anyone with a variable rate can expect prime to remain unchanged. Fixed rates will stay near historic lows.”
Wednesday’s decision is the last one under the leadership of Stephen Poloz. Tiff Macklem was named to replace him. Macklem “participated as an observer in governing council’s deliberations for this policy interest rate decision and endorses the rate decision and measures announced in this press release,” the bank said Tuesday.
Canadian Armed Forces member arrested after gaining access to Rideau Hall grounds – CBC.ca
Police have arrested a Canadian Armed Forces member who they say was armed and had gained access to the grounds at Rideau Hall early Thursday morning.
The man “breached the main pedestrian entrance” at 1 Sussex Drive at around 6:30 a.m. ET with his vehicle, the RCMP said in a statement.
When the impact disabled his vehicle, the man headed to the Rideau Hall greenhouse, where he was “rapidly contained” by RCMP members on patrol, the force said. He was apprehended shortly before 8:30 a.m. without incident and taken into custody for questioning.
CBC News has confirmed the man in custody is Corey Hurren, an active member of the military who serves as a Canadian Ranger.
The Rangers are a component of the Canadian Army Reserve that serves in the remote and coastal regions, typically offering help with national security and public safety operations.
Someone who answered the phone at the Hurren household in Manitoba on Thursday evening confirmed he’d been arrested but said she didn’t want to speak further about the day’s events.
Hurren ran a business called GrindHouse Fine Foods, which makes meat products. In promotional material for his business, Hurren is described as a Royal Canadian Artillery veteran who recently rejoined the military as a Canadian Ranger.
He is also a past president of his local Lion’s Club, an active volunteer in his community of Bowsman, north-west of Winnipeg, and his group of Rangers were on call to be part of the military’s assistance with the COVID-19 response.
WATCH | Canadian Armed Forces member armed with long gun arrested at Rideau Hall:
But in his posts on Facebook, he also revealed that the pandemic had taken a toll on his business.
“I’m not sure what will be left of our economy, industries and businesses when this all ends,” he wrote May 26.
Both the RCMP and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s office previously confirmed the man arrested is in the military.
A source told CBC News the man had driven from Manitoba and had a long gun and a note with him. The source — who spoke on the condition they not be named because they were not authorized to discuss the case — did not know the details of the note nor what kind of long gun it was.
Rideau Hall is the Governor General’s official residence, and the greenhouse is attached to the residence at the back. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family also live on the property at Rideau Cottage, not far from the greenhouse.
The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that the prime minister and his family were not at Rideau Cottage Wednesday night or Thursday morning. RCMP said the Governor General wasn’t present either.
In a statement to CBC, Gov. Gen. Julie Payette’s office said she had been living on the grounds prior to the pandemic and that all staff were safe.
One of the wrought-iron gates leading to the property was left visibly damaged after the incident and debris could be seen on the ground earlier today.
A robot could be seen examining a black pickup truck just inside the gates at Rideau Hall earlier today. The truck’s airbags also appeared to have been deployed.
The inside of the truck’s cab appeared to have been packed with boxes and other items.
The robot opened the door and removed several items from the truck, including an orange cooler and boxes.
There were also officers inspecting the underside of the truck with mirrors, while others had dogs and were inspecting both the inside of the truck and its contents.
The RCMP said late Thursday afternoon that charges are pending against the man, although they have not yet publicly confirmed his identity.
“Through our members’ vigilance, quick action and successful de-escalation techniques, this highly volatile incident was resolved swiftly and peacefully. I am very proud of all our people and our partners who moved fast and acted decisively to contain this threat,” RCMP deputy commissioner Mike Duheme said in a statement.
Peter Lewis lives near Rideau Hall and was cycling along the Vanier Parkway just before 7 a.m. ET when he saw “a stream” of RCMP vehicles heading toward downtown.
WATCH | Police use a robot to investigate truck:
He then saw what he described as an armoured police vehicle.
“It’s a little concerning,” he said. “I hope everybody’s all right.”
The grounds at Rideau Hall, as well as the house itself, are normally major tourist attractions in the nation’s capital, where people enjoy picnics on the grass or wander the gardens.
Both have been closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
As of 6:15 p.m. ET, roads outside Rideau Hall were still closed for the investigation.
Canada adds 302 coronavirus cases on Thursday
Canada’s daily coronavirus death toll rose by more than two dozen on Thursday, while 302 new cases were diagnosed across the country.
Though the number of cases and deaths is declining, Thursday’s data brings the national death toll to 8,642. More than 104,000 people have tested positive for the virus, and though more than 63,000 have recovered.
The number of tests administered across the country stood at over 2.9 million, with Ontario leading the country in overall tests completed.
Ontario added the highest number of cases on Thursday at 153, plus an additional 149 cases from Wednesday that were not previously announced due to the Canada Day holiday.
Eight people have died since figures were last released, for a total of 2,680. The province also announced the rollout of its coronavirus contact tracing app would be delayed though no new launch date was provided.
Quebec, the hardest-hit province in the country, added 69 new cases for a total of 55,593. An additional 14 deaths were announced, bringing the province’s total to 5,541.
Alberta, which was also reporting a two-day total, added one death along with 94 cases.
An additional three deaths occurred in B.C. since the province’s last update on Tuesday. The province has also added 24 new COVID-19 cases, including 15 that were not previously announced due to the holiday.
Saskatchewan added 10 cases, four of which were from July 1, along with one additional fatality. Fourteen people have died due to the coronavirus in that province.
Nova Scotia, which is poised to enter a travel “bubble” with the other Atlantic provinces on Friday, counted one new case.
Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and P.E.I, along with Yukon and the Northwest Territories, added no additional cases on Thursday.
Nunavut, which remains the only province or territory where the virus has not been formally diagnosed, announced its first presumptive case of the virus.
Nunavut’s chief public health officer said in a statement that an individual at the Mary River Mine, who had travelled to the territory for work, is in isolation and “doing well.”
A case announced in the territory in April was later determined to be a false positive.
Meanwhile, the U.S. added more than 50,000 coronavirus cases, the highest daily total since the pandemic began.
Around the world, 10.9 million people have tested positive for the coronavirus, and nearly 520,000 have succumbed to COVID-19, according to a tally kept by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.
Where are Canadians going now that COVID-19 restrictions have eased? – CTV News
As restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 are eased across the country, new data suggests that Canadians are adapting to their new normal, with unprecedented numbers turning to the great outdoors.
Though provincial reopenings have been staggered and varied in approach, the majority of Canadians are once again able to enjoy some semblance of normal life amid the pandemic as retailers, restaurants, and services get back to business.
But publicly available data from tech giant Google suggests that recommendations from health officials to socialize outside have been taken to heart.
Google’s most recent Community Mobility Report for Canada found that activity in Canadian parks was up 117 per cent from baseline levels between mid-May and the end of June.
But some Canadians seem to be enjoying the outdoors far more than others.
Time spent in parks in Nova Scotia was up a whopping 242 per cent from baseline in the same time period.
Saskatchewan and Manitoba also saw sharp increases in park activity, up 192 per cent and 189 per cent from baseline, respectively.
In Ontario and Quebec, where localized COVID-19 outbreaks outpaced other provinces leading to longer lockdown measures, there was also an increase in outdoor activity, up 140 per cent and 130 per cent from baseline.
Experts have increasingly recommended that Canadians socialize outdoors when possible to prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus because the virus can spread more easily between people in a closed space.
RETAIL SEES A RISE AS RESTRICTIONS EASED
Nationally, time spent in retail and recreation destinations remains down 21 per cent from what Google normally measures, with time spent on transit down 31 per cent on average.
Those numbers have improved since March when much of the country’s retail and recreation destinations were closed by government order, sinking the stats to more than 50 per cent below baseline.
Retailers are faring better in some provinces, however.
In Manitoba, for example, visits to retail and recreation destinations were down just 12 per cent, compared to Ontario, which currently stands at 27 per cent below baseline.
However, some of Ontario’s most densely populated areas, including Toronto and Peel Region, did not enter Stage 2 of reopening until June 22, well into data collection phase for Google’s report. Manitoba, which recorded far fewer cases than Ontario, began its reopening in early June.
Google’s data currently stops at June 27. It did not include enough data to show trends within the territories.
Apple’s Mobility Trends Reports tracked similar conclusions for Canada despite reporting data differently. While Google is tracking location data on phones and comparing one location’s current traffic level to its pre-pandemic activity, Apple bases its reports on requests for directions in Apple Maps.
Looking at searches for walking and driving routes, Apple measured a 47 per cent increase in driving route requests and a 39 per cent increase in walking route requests at the end of June.
This marks a significant change from late March and early April, when the tech company measured Canadians’ movement activity as being 50 per cent or more below usual levels.
Public transit-related activity remained down by more than 49 per cent, on average.
But these statistics vary widely depending on where in Canada you live.
In Edmonton, for example, Apple measured a 69 per cent increase in driving route requests. Toronto, on the other hand, only recorded a 24 per cent increase.
Apple and Google both say they are preserving privacy in the gathering of this data, collecting it without making personally identifiable information available at any point in the process.
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