Bank of Canada

Bank of Canada

:"For the defunct commercial bank, see Bank of Canada (commercial)."Infobox Central bank
bank_name_in_local = Banque du Canada fr icon
image_1 = BankofCanadabuilding.jpg|250px
image_title_1 = The Bank of Canada Building in Ottawa.
image_2 =
image_title_2 =
headquarters = Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
coordinates = coord|45.42088|N|-75.702968|E|region:CA_type:landmark|display=inline,title
established = 1935
president = Mark Carney
leader_title = Governor
bank_of = CAN
currency = Canadian dollar
currency_iso = CAD
reserves =
borrowing_rate = 2.5%
deposit_rate =
website = []
preceded =
succeeded =
footnotes =
The Bank of Canada (in _fr. 1=Banque du Canada) is Canada's central bank. It was created by the Bank of Canada Act of 1934, to "promote the economic and financial well-being of Canada." It is the sole issuer of banknotes in Canada ["These are the rules of big business. They have superseded the teachings of our parents and are reducible to a simple maxim: Get a monopoly; let Society work for you: and remember that the best of all business is politics, for a legislative grant, franchise, subsidy or tax exemption is worth more than a Kimberly or Comstock lode, since it does not require any labor, either mental or physical, lot its exploitation" Fredrick C Howe, Confessions of a Monopolist (Chicago: Public Publishing, 1906), p. 157.] , and the central bank for the Canadian dollar.

The bank's headquarters are located in the Bank of Canada Building at the corner of Wellington and Bank Streets in downtown Ottawa.


For many years, Canada did not have a central bank. Each of the nation's large banks issued its own currency and there was little government regulation of the nation's money supply. The federal finance department only issued small and very large denomination bank notes ($5 and under, and $500 and higher.) The Bank of Montreal, then the nation's largest bank, acted as the government's banker. Canada, with its extensive branch banking, had a very stable banking system. There was little need for a lender of last resort and the banking system was not hit by the same seasonal liquidity problems as banks in the US. The banking system was regulated by the Canadian Bankers Association that worked in close concert with the government.

While there were some advocates for a central bank in the early part of the twentieth century, most notably farmers, the status quo remained unaltered. This changed with the onset of Great Depression. Many in Canada blamed the policies of the Canadian banks for aggravating the Depression. The money supply was contracting and deflation was common. The farmers were joined by manufacturing interests and other groups in demanding a central bank. Another major proponent was the Royal Bank of Canada, which wanted to see the government business taken away from the rival Bank of Montreal. The government also claimed it was constrained by its inability to deal directly with its foreign debts.

Prime Minister R.B. Bennett called a Royal Commission in 1933 and it reported in favour of a central bank. The bank began operations on March 11, 1935, after the passage of the Bank of Canada Act. Initially the bank was founded as a privately owned corporation in order to ensure it was free from political influence. In 1938, under Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, it became a Crown corporation [According to the B of C website "A Special Type of Crown Corporation" Special is not defined on the B of C website] , fully owned by the government with the governor appointed by Cabinet. The responsibility for creating small bills was transferred from the finance department and the private banks were ordered to remove their currency from circulation by 1949. [ Bank of Canada - History]

The bank played an important role in financing Canada's war effort during World War II. After the war, the bank's role was expanded as it was mandated to encourage economic growth in Canada. The subsidiary Industrial Development Bank was formed to stimulate investment in Canadian businesses. The monetary policy of the bank was geared towards low interest rates and full employment with little concern about inflation. When inflation began to rise in the early 1960s, the governor James Coyne ordered a reduction in the money supply. Prime Minister John Diefenbaker disagreed with this move, and ordered a return to the full-employment policies. This caused a brief crisis because the bank was supposed to be an arm's length organization not under political control. Coyne resigned, and was replaced by Louis Rasminsky. The bank gradually moved to a more anti-inflation policy, and since the 1980s, keeping inflation low has been its main priority.

Roles and Responsibilities

The principal role of the Bank of Canada, as defined in the Bank of Canada Act, is "to promote the economic and financial welfare of Canada." The bank's current mission statement is::"The Bank of Canada's responsibilities focus on the goals of low and stable inflation, a safe and secure currency, financial stability, and the efficient management of government funds and public debt."

In practice, however, it has a more narrow and specific internal definition of that mandate: to keep the rate of inflation between 1% and 3%.

Since 1998, the Bank's policy has been to intervene in the foreign exchange market only under exceptional circumstances. In this sense, the Canadian dollar's value is determined by the market.

Type of Government Institution

The Bank is not a government department as it performs its activities at arm's-length from the government; it is a Crown corporation owned by the Government (shares are directly held by the Ministry of Finance). The Governor and Senior Deputy Governor are appointed by the Bank's Board of Directors. The Deputy Minister of Finance sits on the Board of Directors but does not have a vote. The Bank submits its spending to the Board of Directors, while federal departments submit their spending estimates to the Treasury Board. Its employees are regulated by the Bank and not the federal public service agencies. Its books are audited by external auditors who are appointed by Cabinet on the recommendation of the Minister of Finance, not by the Auditor General of Canada. [ Bank of Canada - About the Bank]


The head of the Bank of Canada is the Governor, who is appointed by the Bank's Board of Directors. The Governor is appointed for a seven-year term, and cannot be dismissed by the government. In case of a profound disagreement between the government and the Bank, the Minister of Finance can issue written instructions for the Bank to change its policies [cite web|url=|title=Bank of Canada Act: GOVERNMENT DIRECTIVE] . This has never actually happened in the history of the Bank to date. In practice, the Governor sets monetary policy independently of the government.

Bank of Canada Governors

*Mark Carney (2008-)
*David A. Dodge (2001-2008)
*Gordon Thiessen (1994-2001)
*John Crow (1987-1994)
*Gerald Bouey (1973-1987)
*Louis Rasminsky (1961-1973)
*James Coyne (1955-1961)
*Graham Towers (1934-1954)

ee also

* Canadian dollar
* List of banks in Canada


External links

* fr icon [ Bank of Canada official site]

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