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Bank of Canada governor says inflation 'transitory but not short-lived'


Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem says inflation may be around longer than anticipated.

“I think transitory to economists, means sort of not permanent,” said Macklem in an interview with CTV’s Question Period with Evan Solomon, airing Sunday. “I think to a lot of people, transitory means it's going to be over quickly and maybe I don't know exactly what the right word is, but it's probably something like you know, transitory but not short-lived.”

Canada’s inflation rate currently stands at 4.4 per cent, up from 4.1 per cent in August, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada. The central bank expects the inflation rate to near 5 per cent by the end of this year, which remains above its mandate target of 2 per cent.

Canadians have seen that inflation reflected in certain consumer goods such as meat, dairy products, gas and vehicles.

“I do want to assure Canadians that we are going to keep inflation under control,” said Macklem. “And we have the tools, we have the mandate and we will be adjusting our tools to bring inflation back to target.”

Those tools include Quantitative Easing, a program started by the bank at the beginning of the pandemic –where the bank buys government bonds, increases money supply, to keep interest rates low.   

The bank’s policy interest rate has remained at 0.25 per cent to reduce short-term borrowing costs for businesses and households and spur economic recovery. 

In 2020, the Bank of Canada had not anticipated interest rate increases until 2023. With the new concerns about inflation far exceeding its original inflation projections, Macklem has moved up that timeline to 2022.

“We said it's going to be sometime around the middle of next year,” he said. “If you want it in months, sometime between April and September.”


Inflation is also affecting the housing market, with the cost of homes up 14.4 per cent from last year. But Macklem says low interest rates are fueling strong demand for housing.

“We have for some time expressed concern about housing,” he said. “It is a vulnerability here in Canada.”

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation echoes those concerns, stating the housing market is more vulnerable to a potential downturn. Its housing market assessment points to low interest rates, government supports and disposable incomes as the main drivers for increased home purchases.

Macklem says Canadians are overstretching to get the house they want, but does not foresee the kind of run up in housing prices to go on indefinitely.  

“I get letters from Canadians I get letters from young families,” he said. “I recognize people are having a hard time and the solution to this problem is supply, we've got to increase supply of housing.”


The Bank of Canada governor does not see Bitcoin as part of the future of digital currency.

“Let me be clear, Bitcoin is not a digital currency,” said Macklem. “People do not use Bitcoin, to buy things."

Macklem says the crypto-currency is an investment and that the amount of stuff that gets bought and sold remains very small.

However, with an increasingly digital economy, the Bank of Canada has invested time and research looking at the potential development of a digital currency. Macklem says the decision on whether Canada has a central bank digital currency is up to the Minister of Finance.

“We have banknotes, and we're going to have banknotes, at least for the whole time that I'm Governor, they are not going away” he said. “At the same time, we know our economy is becoming more digital, and the pandemic has accelerated that.”



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