Canada’s largest banks are coordinating their approach to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak to protect their employees and customers.
Measures to support both health and finances will have some common elements across the ‘Big Six’ banks - RBC, CIBC, TD, Scotiabank, BMO, and National Bank of Canada, the Canadian Bankers Association said.
Financial support will include up to a six-month payment deferral for mortgages, and the opportunity for relief on other credit products.
Individual Canadians or business owners facing hardship are encouraged to contact their bank directly to discuss options that could be available to them.
In keeping with advice from Canada’s public health authorities, the response is also designed to support social distancing to control the virus’ spread.
That means that branches will be closed or operate with reduced hours, while special care will be taken with those branches in rural communities.
Critical services will be maintained and many banking services will continue to be available through ABMs, mobile apps, bank websites and telephone banking.
Banks will be communicating with customers to explain the measures they are taking.
Canada’s banks are being supported by a reduction in the stability buffer required for a ‘rainy day’ and by other measures taken by the federal government and Bank of Canada in expectation of a potentially-prolonged downturn.
With interest rates currently at 0.75%, there is room for the BoC to make further reductions in line with some other major economies. The Fed cut its overnight rate to a range of 0% to 0.25% on March 15.