Large Canadian banks swelled provisions for credit losses (PCL) by C$497 million ($374 million) in the first quarter as their economic forecasts darkened.

Aggregate PCL across the Big Five – calculated as the sum of provisions for impaired and performing loans – rose by almost one-quarter to C$2.5 billion in the three months to end-January. Year-on-year, the aggregate increase was C$654 million, or 35%.

Four of the Big Five saw provisions rise on the quarter, with Bank of Montreal (BMO) the