Good morning, and thank you for joining Senior Deputy Governor Wilkins and me to discuss today’s interest rate decision. Before turning to your questions, let me briefly summarize today’s announcements.
First, we have lowered our target for the overnight rate by 50 basis points to ¼ percent. This unscheduled rate decision brings the policy rate to its effective lower bound, to provide support to the Canadian financial system and to the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government has announced decisive fiscal actions to defend Canadians and the economy from the damaging effects of COVID-19. These actions are designed to support individuals and businesses through this very difficult time, and to minimize any permanent damage to the structure of the economy.
Our monetary policy is playing an important supporting role. Low interest rates help to cushion the shock by easing the cost of borrowing. We are also working to keep the financial system functioning, helping make sure credit is available to people and companies. The intent of our decision today is two-fold: to immediately support the financial system so it keeps on providing credit, and, over the longer term, to lay the foundation for the economy’s return to normalcy.
We are conducting a series of market operations to help ensure that credit is available and that markets continue to function. We’ve announced two new ones today. First, the Commercial Paper Purchase Program will help to restore a key source of short-term funding for businesses. Second, the Bank will begin acquiring Government of Canada securities in the secondary market. This will help address strains in the Government of Canada debt market and enhance the effectiveness of all other actions taken so far. We will keep this program going until it’s clear the economic recovery is well underway.
The Bank is closely monitoring economic and financial conditions, in coordination with other G7 central banks and fiscal authorities. We will update our outlook in mid-April. As the situation evolves, Governing Council stands ready to take further action as required to support the Canadian economy and its financial system and to keep inflation on target.
With that, Senior Deputy Governor Wilkins and I are happy to take your questions.