When the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic became clear, the Bank moved quickly to adapt its internal operations and support business continuity in our financial system.
The Bank of Canada has been increasing its operational resilience over the past few years. Internally, we have been working to strengthen our critical systems so they could enable us to operate smoothly during any emergency situation. We have also been collaborating internationally with other central banks and G7 partners and domestically through the Canadian Financial Sector Resiliency Group (CFRG) to share information and coordinate efforts.
As one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers for 10 consecutive years, we pride ourselves on our people-first philosophy. Investments in our infrastructure, staff and cyber security positioned us well to move quickly to a virtual workplace. Our transition to mandatory work from home for staff was efficient and relatively seamless.
Internally, cross-functional emergency response teams started risk-response discussions in February. By mid-March, all staff were teleworking except those involved with and supporting our critical market, banking and currency operations. At the same time, the Bank and CFRG partners began meeting frequently to ensure a collaborated response within the highly interconnected financial system.
At CFRG COVID-19 meetings, the Bank and its partners have been sharing information and best practices, including how to ensure the safety of their staff, stakeholders and customers. Members continue to share information on emerging operational risks, such as cyber attacks, and to develop protocols to guide when and how staff might return to the office.
Financial system participants were prepared to respond quickly because of lessons learned from previous emergencies and could perform critical operations from back-up sites. Otherwise, banks wouldn’t be able to lend money to their customers, and governments wouldn’t be able to fund critical programs that provide support to millions of Canadians during COVID-19.
Business continuity planning within the Bank and our strong collaborative partnerships with key financial and federal partners laid a solid foundation for our rapid response. These relationships, including our exceptional corporate culture that prioritizes employee well-being, will continue to see us through this crisis.”
Working for Canadians
- With flight restrictions rolling out across Canada, the Bank’s Currency Department needed to act fast so Canadians could continue to get cash at banks and bank machines. In five days in mid-March alone, the Bank shipped more notes than in the entire month of December—typically the busiest time due to holiday shopping.
- The Bank opened our Calgary Operations Centre in 2019 to ensure we could continue critical market operations during a crisis. While we did not anticipate the pandemic, having staff in both Ottawa and Calgary enabled us to scale up to ensure continuous functioning of key financial markets and provide liquidity to the financial system in record time.