Fifties in temporary short supply, Bank of Canada acknowledges

Nelson Zandbergen
Nation Valley News

EASTERN ONTARIO — Increased consumer demand for cash during the COVID-19 pandemic has helped put the pinch on the supply of $50 bills in Canada.

The Bank of Canada acknowledges recently substituting other bills for fifties to fill some of the orders of financial institutions. “We still have $50 bank notes in stock, but the order adjustments were made in order to maintain adequate inventories throughout the next few weeks,” says Amélie Ferron-Craig, media relations consultant for the Bank.

The “temporary” switch-up follows “larger-than-expected demand” for the $50 bill over the past few months … “ahead of our regularly scheduled stock replenishment expected by the end of summer,” says Ferron-Craig.

While the Bank of Canada can’t speak to the scarcity of the $50 note specifically, the phenomenon does coincide with a jump in all types of cash in circulation during the pandemic.

A recent discussion paper by Bank of Canada staff attributes the circulation increase to financial institutions drawing down on the Bank’s cash inventory in response to the pandemic: Those institutions stocked up to “pre-empt possible disruptions in cash transportation services and reduce the risk of cash stockouts from potential customer demand.” They also turned to the Bank to make up for cash lost when deposits dried up from the hard-hit commercial and retail sectors.

“Finally, the increase in notes in circulation also reflects an increase in demand for bank notes from consumers,” adds Ferron-Craig in an email, “and we believe that this increase was significant.”

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