As the saying goes, "cash is king." However, during a pandemic, it's probably not the best idea to use currency that is being touched by multiple people. Still, that hasn't stopped the demand for Canada's $50 bills, which are now in short supply.

CTV News reports that the Bank of Canada is looking at a shortage of the denomination, but that it won't affect anyone's ability to withdraw cash from a bank.

"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," the country's central bank said in a statement to CTV.

A July 2 staff discussion paper from the Bank of Canada examined the relationship between COVID-19 and the demand for bank notes.

The data shows that in 2020, there was a sharp increase in the number of notes in circulation starting in about mid-March (when the effects of the pandemic really began to hit Canada). It adds that $20 and $50 bills were the most popular.

Another chart shows an increase in cash withdrawals around the same time, with the majority of them being in Toronto, followed by Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver respectively.

The paper notes that increased consumer demand for cash could have been a "significant" component of this spike.

It also said that it was likely that banks themselves had requested more $50 bills in order to keep their cash inventories stocked due to any possible disruptions in the supply chain caused by the pandemic.

However, further data shows that while 35% of Canadians decreased their use of physical currency, the average amount of cash on hand increased to $158 in 2020 from $136 in 2019.

That could indicate that people are taking cash out, but not spending it.

While there may have been reports about merchants refusing to accept cash during the pandemic, a majority of Canadians (43%) reported that they did not have this experience.

Much like toilet paper, it's possible that people just wanted their own emergency supply of cash.

Start the Conversation
Account Settings
Notifications
Favourites
Log Out