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Deloitte Canada has appointed Dawn Desjardins as its chief economist, marking a return to Bay Street for one of the country’s foremost commentators on economic issues.

Ms. Desjardins was previously the deputy chief economist at Royal Bank of Canada RY-T, from which she retired last spring after 16 years at the institution. During that time, she established herself as a go-to expert on various subjects, explaining the intricacies of monetary policy, bond markets and employment trends on television and in print. Her research at RBC often focused on the economic benefits of boosting women’s outcomes in the labour market.

When Ms. Desjardins left RBC, she felt “it was time to hang up my crystal ball,” she said in an interview. But over time, she missed being part of the economics discourse and speaking with business leaders, prompting her to come out of retirement: “I just thought, I’d really like to be back a part of that world.”

In her new role, which is set to be announced Thursday, Ms. Desjardins will be advising Deloitte Canada’s leadership on how the economy is performing, as well as their clients. She will also contribute to research on broader issues in the economy.

“I’m still very interested and committed to looking at women’s participation in the work force,” she said. “Yes, it’s improved a lot in my year away, but still, a gap persists.”

The economics community in Canada’s private sector skews male, particularly in the top positions. But with this appointment, Ms. Desjardins is part of a growing cohort of prominent female chief economists that includes Beata Caranci (Toronto-Dominion Bank TD-T) and Frances Donald (Manulife Investment Management).

“The numbers are growing. They’re still limited,” Ms. Desjardins said. Seeing women in these top positions “really encourages other women to stay in the field. We want to normalize it.”

The Canadian economy was in a very different place when Ms. Desjardins departed RBC last year. The Bank of Canada was just getting started with its rapid rate hikes to tackle inflation. Now, the bank’s policy rate has risen to 4.5 per cent, the highest since 2007 – and further increases may be needed to subdue a hot economy.

Many of Ms. Desjardins’s peers on Bay Street think Canada will slip into a recession this year.

“We’re going to go through a period of slower economic growth, maybe a mild recession,” she said. “Nothing compared to what we’ve seen in recent recessionary periods, but nonetheless, a slowdown.”