The council, which monitors recessions and recoveries in Canada, said the economy peaked in February, just before drastic measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 were implemented across the country.
"Members agreed that by applying the council's methodology to the preliminary data available, Canada entered a recession in the first quarter of 2020," the council said in a statement.
There are no hard and fast rules for declaring a recession, although one rule of thumb used by economists is that an economy is probably in one if it has shrunk for two three-month periods in a row.
The council rejects the "two quarters" rule and instead defines a recession as a "pronounced, persistent and pervasive decline in aggregate economic activity" based largely on GDP and the job market.
The COVID-19 pandemic is still less than two months old in Canada, but the council said Friday that the slowdown is already so swift and deep that it's safe to declare a recession already.