OTTAWA – The Bank of Canada raised its key interest rate by a full percentage point on Wednesday, marking the largest single rate hike since August 1998.
The central bank’s decision signals a more aggressive approach to bringing skyrocketing inflation back down to its target of two per cent.
Inflation reached a 39-year-high of 7.7 per cent in May.
In its latest monetary policy report, the Bank of Canada said inflation in Canada is “largely the result of international factors,” but that “domestic demand pressures are becoming more prominent.”
Most economists had forecasted a rate hike of three-quarters of a percentage point.
After raising interest rates by half a percentage point in June, Governor Tiff Macklem said the central bank “may need to move more quickly” to bring inflation down.
Wednesday’s rate hike brings the overnight interest rate up to 2.5 per cent.
In a note, CIBC senior economist Karyne Charbonneau said the Bank of Canada raising its key rate to a peak of 3.25 per cent is now more likely.
“With the Bank of Canada qualifying this larger step than anticipated as “front-loading”, we still believe they could stop at three per cent, but the risks that the peak reaches 3.25 per cent have increased,” said Charbonneau.
The central bank said the largest drivers of global inflation are the Russian invasion of Ukraine and ongoing supply disruptions, leading to higher global energy and food prices.
Inflation in the U.S. soared to a new four-decade peak in June. Consumer prices rose 9.1 per cent compared with a year earlier, the government said on Wednesday.
Statistics Canada is expected to release Canada’s inflation data for June on July 20.
Domestically, the Bank of Canada said “further excess demand has built up,” citing tight labour markets and strong demand.
That excess demand is allowing businesses to pass more of their cost increases on to consumers, the bank said.
The unemployment rate fell to a record-low of 4.9 per cent in June as businesses continue to struggle with an ongoing labour shortage.
The central bank is also citing concerns about rising inflation expectations among consumers and businesses. Economists generally worry when people begin expecting high inflation, as those expectations then feed into future prices set by business and wage negotiations.
“The bank is guarding against the risk that high inflation becomes entrenched because if it does, restoring price stability will require even higher interest rates, leading to a weaker economy,” said the central bank.
In its forecast, the Bank of Canada expects GDP growth to begin to slow this year, growing by 1.75 per cent in 2023 and 2.5 per cent in 2024.
It’s also forecasting inflation will peak at eight per cent this year and begin to decline toward the end of the year and reach its target rate in 2024.
The central bank’s projections assume that globally, oil prices will gradually decrease, and supply chain disruptions will ease.
“The governing council continues to judge that interest rates will need to rise further,” the Bank of Canada said in its decision, adding that the pace of these rate hikes will depend on the central bank’s assessment of the economy and inflation.
The bank is also continuing quantitative easing.
Macklem, who recently recovered from COVID-19, will hold a video news conference on Wednesday morning.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 13, 2022.
Cost of living: Pepsi and Coca-Cola absent in meeting with federal industry minister
Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne speaks to reporters in the foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023. Canada’s industry minister made a point of calling out Pepsi and Coca-Cola for not sending representatives to a meeting he convened on Monday with manufacturing companies to discuss stabilizing grocery prices. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s industry minister made a point of calling out Pepsi and Coca-Cola for not sending representatives to a meeting he convened on Monday with manufacturing companies to discuss stabilizing grocery prices.
François-Philippe Champagne singled out the two companies when asked by a journalist what the consequences would be if major industry players did not succeed in stopping high inflation.
“This morning, (their CEOs) did not attend the meeting,” Champagne said of beverage giants Pepsi and Coca-Cola.
“I intend to call on them and I will continue to do so. … I don’t stop,” he told reporters.
The Canadian leaders of seven international manufacturing companies, including Nestlé and Kraft Heinz, met with Champagne.
He summoned them to answer to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s call earlier this month for Canadian grocers to come up with a plan to stabilize prices by Thanksgiving.
If major grocers fail to deliver ideas, Champagne said, “the consequence is for all 40 million Canadians because we will be able to see who is taking action and who is not.”
A government source told The Canadian Press that the CEOs of Pepsi and Coca-Cola responded to the federal government summons by stating they were not available Monday. The source was granted anonymity because they were not allowed to speak publicly about the matter.
It’s unclear, however, whether another meeting between major food companies and the government will take place.
Monday’s meeting brought together top Canadian executives from McCain, Unilever, Nestlé, Lactalis, Lassonde, Kraft Heinz, and Smucker Foods.
All avoided speaking with journalists. The CEO of the Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada association, Michael Graydon, attended the meeting and agreed to answer questions on their behalf.
Graydon called the meeting “very productive.”
”We’re very much about co-operation and support, collaboration,” he said. “It’s an industry that needs to align and work collectively to find a solution.”
He said manufacturers want to collaborate with other players in the supply chain, such as major retailers like Loblaw and Costco, whose leaders Champagne met with one week earlier.
In a statement, Pepsi said it is open to meeting with Champagne.
“We are pleased that our industry association, FHCP, led a productive conversation with the government and representatives from industry today,” it said.
“We were not able to attend today’s meeting, but we offered to meet with the minister. We are committed to collaborating with the government to identify solutions during this challenging time for Canadians.”
Trudeau has said that if the government isn’t satisfied with what major grocers come up with to stabilize prices, he would intervene, including with tax measures.
Graydon said it remains to be seen how detailed the plans will be by the government’s Thanksgiving deadline.
”We’ll have to see whether, you know, the detail of how much completeness can be done by that time. But I think everybody’s working very hard to achieve that,” Graydon said.
Champagne said he is happy Graydon “wants to do something,” because “it’s a gain for Canadians.”
“It’s clear that what’s important is that we have timelines, work plans, and obviously concrete actions,” the minister said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2023.
Alberta set to release report on whether to ditch CPP for provincial pension plan
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith speaks to the media in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Sept. 18, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
By Dean Bennett in Edmonton
The Alberta government is set to release its long-promised report on whether the province should quit the Canada Pension Plan and pursue its own provincial program.
United Conservative Premier Danielle Smith, along with Finance Minister Nate Horner and panel chair Jim Dinning, are to release the report at a news conference in Calgary on Thursday.
The Opposition NDP says it has received leaked details of what is coming and says Albertans should prepare for some financial flim-flam on the potential benefits.
NDP finance critic Shannon Phillips says the report relies on an outdated financial withdrawal formula dating back to the CPP’s creation in the mid 1960s.
“The report is expected to claim Alberta is owed hundreds of billions of dollars from the fund,” Phillips said in a statement Tuesday.
“However, if every province used this formula, it would total nine times what is currently invested in the CPP.”
The Opposition NDP has accused Smith of playing politics with nest-egg savings, by using an Alberta pension plan to create a wedge issue with the federal government.
The NDP said the idea is offside with public sentiment, given opinion polls suggest ditching CPP is deeply unpopular with Albertans.
Horner’s office did not immediately return a request for an interview.
Economist Trevor Tombe said he’s interested in how the province plans to balance the potential short-term benefit of a young, prosperous Alberta leaving the CPP versus the long-term volatility that comes with fluctuations in demographics and the economy combined with a smaller pool of capital.
Tombe, with the University of Calgary, said the report could launch a multi-year political and legal battle over how a province can leave the CPP, what it gets and what the effect would be on other provinces.
“The CPP’s assets this year are pegged at $530 billion, a pretty significant amount of funds at stake,” said Tombe.
The report is being done by Lifeworks, formerly known as Morneau Shepell, which helps companies with employee and family assistance plans, absence management, pension benefits administration and retirement planning.
Smith has said regardless of the report’s conclusions, Albertans would have the final say in a referendum.
Both Smith and her predecessor, Jason Kenney, have extolled the potential of a go-it-alone program, given Alberta’s wealth and comparatively young population.
The issue has waxed and waned for the last two decades amid concerns Alberta puts in far more than it gets out and may benefit from a stand-alone benefit program such as in Quebec.
The UCP government began studying the Alberta option in earnest in June 2020 under Kenney. Later that year, the outside consultant was hired to study the benefits and drawbacks.
In March 2021, Kenney said work on the report was almost done and his government was just weeks away from announcing next steps. The report never materialized.
In February, Smith’s office said the report was being updated to reflect new figures on the CPP.
Should it take steps to exit the CPP, Alberta would be charting new territory given that Quebec did not exit the plan, but rather didn’t join it when the CPP was created.
The pension plan is part of a suite of measures championed by the UCP to carve out some space between Alberta and the federal government.
Other potential measures include a provincial police force and a separate revenue collection agency.
The provincial police force idea was spelled out in mandate letters to ministers when Smith first took office late last year, but disappeared from the revised mandate letters when she reshuffled her cabinet after winning the May 29 provincial election.
Last month, Justice Minister Mickey Amery said the provincial police force idea is not dead and said his department would continue to consult with Albertans on where they want to go with policing.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 20, 2023.
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