The Bank of Canada began its first-ever foray into quantitative easing on Wednesday, with the purchase of $1.0 billion in government bonds.

The central bank bought various amounts of five different bond series in the five-year range, with maturity dates ranging from Sept. 2023 to June 2025, according to results posted on the Bank of Canada’s website.

It’s a moderate start to what some analysts are predicting will be hundreds of billions of dollars in purchases of Canadian government bonds in coming months as part of the central bank’s efforts to ease strains in the financial system and keep money cheap for borrowers. The Bank of Canada hasn’t set a limit on purchases, only saying it will buy a minimum $5 billion in government bonds per week until the nation’s recovery is “well underway.”

While Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz has been reluctant to define the purchases as “quantitative easing” specifically, he said last week he wouldn’t argue against characterizing the actions as such.

The bond purchases are unprecedented -- the central bank didn’t roll out this sort of program even during the financial crisis -- highlighting the severe impact collapsing oil prices and mandated business closures are having on Canada’s economy. The operations will also keep credit flowing at a time when the government is expected to move ahead with record borrowing in coming months to finance its own stimulus package.

The Canadian government on Wednesday sold $5.5 billion in five-year bonds.

The next purchase of government bonds by the Bank of Canada takes place April 2, in the 10-year sector. A full schedule is here.