RBC chief sees 100-day race to reopen Canadian economy

Vaccination is the key to returning Canada to some form of normal by the late spring

RBC chief sees 100-day race to reopen Canadian economy
Steve Randall

The Canadian economy needs a shot in the arm. Literally.

With the vaccination program underway, the chief executive of one of Canada’s big six banks says that the race is on to vaccinate millions of the most clinically vulnerable in the country.

Speaking at an investors conference Monday, RBC’s David McKay said that up to 4.5 million high-risk people will need to be given the COVID-19 jab before restrictions can be reduced.

He believes that can be achieved in 100 days.

If he’s right, it would mean that curbs people and businesses will be loosened, and he expects the economy to see the benefits pretty fast as pent-up demand is fuelled by consumers’ healthy savings accounts.

“If anything, there could be a little bit of pent-up inflation from excess demand in the economy,” McKay said.

Also speaking at the event was BMO’s chief executive Darryl White, who also spoke of the “substantial savings” of many Canadians. However, he was not sure spending would spike until travel restrictions are eased, hopefully later in the year.

That, he believes, will spark “a very rapid acceleration, both on the consumer side and on the business side.”

1.3 million by month-end

The prime minister said Friday that 1.3 million people will have been vaccinated by the end of January – and that there will be enough supply of vaccines for every Canadian who wants one by September.

A survey released this week by the Angus Reid Institute shows the keenness of Canadians to get the jab.

There has been a 12 point increase in the share of respondents who said they are willing to have the vaccine. But while 60% are ready to be vaccinated, more than half are unhappy that the roll out is proceeding too slowly.