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Builders work on a new home in North Vancouver on Oct. 27, 2016.

JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. is tripling the size of its program to buy insured mortgage pools to $150-billion, more than double the amount the Crown corporation bought during the 2008 financial crisis.

The ramp-up of mortgage purchases by CMHC is one of a slew of moves by the federal government, along with the Bank of Canada and the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, to shore up financial liquidity as the fight against the coronavirus delivers a severe economic shock.

CMHC’s purchase of mortgage securities will expand funding for lenders in the hope that money keeps flowing to consumers and businesses.

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Canada’s big banks field more than 200,000 mortgage deferral requests

In a statement, CMHC said it made its first purchase of insured mortgage securities on Tuesday, in the amount of $5-billion.

The Crown corporation said the finance ministry authorized the expansion on Wednesday.

The Crown corporation is also expanding its issuance of Canada Mortgage Bonds by $10-billion to $60-billion, even as the Bank of Canada steps up its purchases of those securities. Since March 17, the bank has bought $851-million in bonds in four transactions. And CMHC said it has suspended its dividend payment to conserve its financial resources, adding that it had $3-billion in excess capital as of Dec. 31, 2019. It paid out a $505-million dividend in December to the government, its sole shareholder.

During the financial crisis 12 years ago, CMHC bought $69-billion in mortgage pools.

With a report from Reuters

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