Bank of Canada says economic conditions don't warrant rate change

The Bank of Canada opted to keep its benchmark interest rate at 0.5 per cent on Wednesday, the same level its been at for more than a year.

Central bank's key interest rate remains at 0.5%, unchanged since summer of 2015

Stephen Poloz and the Bank of Canada decided to keep the central bank's core interest rate steady at 0.5 per cent on Wednesday. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

The Bank of Canada opted to keep its benchmark interest rate at 0.5 per cent on Wednesday, the same level it's been at for more than a year.

The central bank, led by Governor Stephen Poloz, said Wednesday that underlying economic conditions don't warrant a change in policy at this time.

But while the bank cited the economy's weak first half — punctuated by the Fort McMurray wildfire knocking 1.6 percentage points off GDP — it makes clear that it thinks stronger growth lies ahead.

"While Canada's economy shrank in the second quarter, the bank still projects a substantial rebound in the second half of this year," the bank said.

That's not to say there are no dark clouds on the horizon. The bank specifically singled out the Vancouver housing market, noting that it is showing signs "possible moderation" after several years of booming growth.

On the whole, BMO economist Doug Porter saw very little in the statement to suggest the bank is thinking about raising interest rates to more normal levels any time soon.

"It's pretty clear the bank has zero appetite for rate hikes," he said in a note to clients after the bank's statement came out.

Paul Ashworth at Capital Economics took it one step further, arguing that while he expects the bank to stay on the sidelines for a while, when it does choose to move it will likely be in the opposite direction.

"Overall [it was] a dovish statement that opens the door to a rate cut just a crack," Ashworth said.

The bank's key interest rate has a big impact on what savers get for their money and what homeowners pay for their mortgages.

The bank cut its core lending rate twice in 2015 in an attempt to stimulate the Canadian economy.


Pete Evans

Senior Business Writer

Pete Evans is the senior business writer for Prior to coming to the CBC, his work has appeared in the Globe & Mail, the Financial Post, the Toronto Star, and Canadian Business Magazine. Twitter: @p_evans Email:


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