The Bank of Canada building is seen in Ottawa on April 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Majority of economists expect Bank of Canada to stay put on interest rates: survey

The Bank of Canada has held its current rate since March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic was first declared

A majority of Canadian economists agree that the Bank of Canada will keep its key interest rate on hold instead of announcing a new overnight target Wednesday (June 9).

That’s according to a new Data Finder survey of 21 Canadian economists, of whom 95 per cent or 20 say they think the rate will remain where it’s been for more than a year, at 0.25 per cent.

More than half of the experts, 55 per cent, believe the central bank’s government won’t swap rates for another 10 to 18 months – all of the economists agree the next rate change will be an increase.

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Roelof van Dijk, senior director of national research and analytics for Colliers International, worries a premature rate hike could pose a risk to debt-burdened Canadians.

“Although inflation has moved up, it is likely only transitory… the Bank of Canada is acutely aware of those households and businesses that took on additional debt to make ends meet during the pandemic and how rising interest rates will impact them, and economic growth.”

Hiking up interest rates would affect rates for people with mortgages and business loans, notes van Dijk. 

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The economist who thinks differently is Atif Kubursi, president of Econometric Research Ltd.

“Inflationary pressures are gathering and the Bank should make sure that these pressures do not engender inflationary expectations. I do not see a prospect of that given that we are likely to have an election call,” Kubursi says.

Rates expected to rise in 2022

Responses logged were vastly different from when Data Finder conducted the same study three months ago and only around half of the economists (52%) said the rate would hold.

In May, federal budget officer Yves Giroux says he expects the trend-setting interest rate will rise by half a percentage point in the second half of 2022 and until it hits 2.5 per cent.

Similarly, senior lecturer Moshe Lander of Concordia University says the second half of 2022 is the most feasible timeline for a rate hike.

“The bank needs to give the economy some time and space to breathe and figure out what things look like before acting. In that time, we are likely to see a federal election, so the Bank of Canada should hold off on its decision until there is some degree of calm.”

READ MORE: Bank of Canada keeps rate on hold, sees brighter economic outlook


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