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Bank of Canada Senior Deputy Governor Carolyn Wilkins speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, on Oct. 28, 2020.

BLAIR GABLE/Reuters

Carolyn Wilkins, the Bank of Canada’s second-in-command, has decided to leave the bank in early December, five months before the end of her term.

In a news release Thursday, the central bank said Ms. Wilkins, the bank’s senior deputy governor for the past six and a half years, gave notice to the bank’s board that her final day would be Dec. 9. She had informed the bank in September that she intended to leave once her seven-year term expired next May, rather than seek a second term. Thursday’s announcement hastens her departure.

“The end of the year provides for an appropriate time for me to leave the bank, so that I can explore the next chapter in my career,” Ms. Wilkins said in a statement issued by the bank. “It also enables Governor [Tiff] Macklem and the board to move forward in solidifying the team that will manage the economy through recovery and achieve the longer-term goals of the bank. I know that the bank is in excellent hands.”

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A bank spokesperson wouldn’t comment on whether Ms. Wilkins, 56, is leaving for another position elsewhere. Ms. Wilkins was unavailable for comment.

Ms. Wilkins, a 20-year veteran of the Bank of Canada, was named senior deputy under then-governor Stephen Poloz in 2014, becoming the highest-ranking woman in the history of the central bank. Highly respected in finance and policy circles, she had been considered the favourite to succeed Mr. Poloz as governor when his own term expired last June. Instead, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then-finance minister Bill Morneau chose Mr. Macklem, a former senior deputy governor, who at the time was dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

Ms. Wilkins’s departure will leave the central bank’s senior ranks thinned at a time when it is navigating the most extraordinary period for monetary policy in its history. The bank took aggressive action last spring in response to the COVID-19 crisis, cutting its key interest rate to a record-low 0.25 per cent and launching a quantitative easing program involving the weekly purchase of billions of dollars worth of government bonds. The central bank is also in the midst of a major review of its mandate in preparation for next fall’s renewal of its five-year inflation-targeting agreement with the federal government – a review in which Ms. Wilkins has played a central role.

The bank formally launched its search for Ms. Wilkins’s successor on Wednesday, publishing an advertisement for applications on the website of executive search firm Boyden.

Officially, the search for a new senior deputy is in the hands of an independent committee of the bank’s board, although in practice, the governor provides significant input into the choice. Final approval lies with the finance minister and prime minister.

Among the potential candidates for the job are current Bank of Canada deputy governors Paul Beaudry and Timothy Lane. Other possibilities include Jean Boivin, a former deputy governor who is now a top executive at investment firm BlackRock Inc., and deputy minister of finance Paul Rochon. Both men have worked closely with Mr. Macklem in the past.

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