Managing the Bank

The pandemic required the Bank to find innovative ways to manage its operations in 2020. Bank staff quickly implemented ideas and tools that were already in development and helped the Bank to adapt almost every aspect of its business to the challenging circumstances.

The Bank’s established framework for managing incidents and its uniform approach to business continuity planning were essential to its ability to respond quickly. Adaptable emergency response teams made informed choices aligned with:

  • public health guidelines
  • peer organization responses

In mid‑March 2020, the Bank transitioned to mandatory remote work for most of its employees, except for staff needed to conduct or support critical functions. The Bank has monitored and adapted to the environment as the situation changed throughout the year, shifting priorities and finding solutions to the many challenges that arose.

Focusing on our people

As one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers for 11 years in a row, the Bank prides itself on a people-first philosophy and a work environment that is second to none.

As part of this commitment, and to ensure it is attracting and developing employees that reflect the diversity of Canadians, in 2020 the Bank launched a comprehensive strategy to promote diversity and inclusion.

Supporting new ways of working during the pandemic

The Bank took important steps in 2020 to support the health and well‑being of employees and help them adapt to challenges associated with the COVID‑19 pandemic.

The Bank:

  • offered exceptional support to its remote workforce by:
    • allowing flexible work hours
    • adapting its policies
    • providing ergonomic and limited financial assistance for home office equipment
    • expanding health benefits
    • conducting surveys to gauge the need for additional support
  • provided coaching and training for leaders on mental health issues and managing teams through a crisis
  • developed systems for tracking and checking in on employees infected with the virus and for onsite employees self‑isolating for any reason
  • implemented physical safeguards for employees conducting critical work onsite

Developing a workforce for the future

Despite the immediate challenges the pandemic presented, the Bank remained focused on ensuring its people would be prepared for future challenges.

It conducted a strategic workforce analysis of new, emerging and in‑demand skills that will enable the Bank to remain a leading central bank in a digital age. The results will be important to the Bank’s resourcing and strategic plans.

The Bank also continued to make important progress in enhancing its data and analytics capabilities and pursuing its digital transformation.

Investing in resilience

The Bank’s ongoing commitment to operational resilience enabled it to quickly:

  • anticipate and adapt to emerging threats
  • ensure the continuity of critical operations

Thanks to its investments in creating two parallel operational sites and in enhancing key technology infrastructure, the Bank successfully navigated the challenges it faced in 2020.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the Bank improved its information technology capacity to ensure it could support remote work for a long period. As a result, it quickly accommodated the bandwidth needs of employees. It also successfully supported the roughly 6,000 users across the country who access aspects of the Bank’s systems. These users include traders, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation and members of Payments Canada.

At the same time, the Bank continued to monitor and manage the systems that support the Canadian financial system, such as those related to regulatory reporting, auctions, payments and settlements, and bank note exchange.

The Bank also worked with partners in financial institutions to establish secure remote access to critical banking applications—ensuring the availability of a reliable backbone for the Canadian financial system. As well, it continued to meet regularly with partners in the Canadian Financial Sector Resiliency Group to share operational status updates and discuss emerging issues.

Enhancing the pension plan’s investment portfolio

The Bank of Canada Pension Plan is a fully funded plan provided by the Bank to its employees. In its role as administrator, the Bank continued its work to diversify assets within the plan’s investment portfolio. The Bank made these changes in response to the results of the 2018 triennial study of the plan’s assets and liabilities.

The findings suggested that increasing diversification could improve the plan’s efficiency by reducing risk for a similar level of expected return. Notably, the Bank began integrating environmental, social and corporate governance considerations into its evaluation of external asset managers in 2020.

Looking forward

In 2021, the Bank will:

  • continue to monitor how the pandemic affects operations
  • plan for the eventual return of staff to the Bank’s offices; this includes ongoing efforts to design a post‑pandemic workplace and new ways of working
  • conduct a broad and coordinated review of its COVID‑19 pandemic response to enhance business resilience
  • develop and launch its next medium‑term plan
  • implement its diversity and inclusion strategy, with a focus on promoting inclusion through training and eliminating barriers to building a career at the Bank
  • advance its strategies for digital transformation and enterprise data and analytics
  • continue to improve its cyber security, as outlined in its cyber security strategy
  • improve the strength of its information technology systems, including implementing the cloud-first strategy

More information

2019–2021 Cyber Security Strategy: Reducing Risk, Promoting Resilience.

Bank of Canada Employees to Work Remotely