Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

WANTED: FAIR BANKING

Posted by strattof on December 6, 2017

Many low and moderate income people use extremely expensive payday loans to meet their monthly budget. In Saskatchewan a one week $100 payday loan could cost $23.  That amounts to a yearly interest rate of over 1100%, much greater than the 19% to 28% rate credit card users typically pay.

Some low income borrowers get caught in a debt trap – taking a loan they cannot afford and then extending the loan or taking another loan to pay off the original loan.

This week Making Peace Vigil joins a national campaign aimed at ending predatory lending practices. We are encouraging credit unions and chartered banks to make mainstream banking fairer and improve their services to low and moderate income Canadians.    

PAYDAY LENDING IN SASKATCHEWAN

A payday loan is a high cost, small, short term loan provided without security. The loan can be up to $1,500 and has a term of less than 62 days.

Loans are payable on or after the next regular pay date and agreements are to be in writing. The provincial government limits lenders to charging no more than $23 in fees for every $100 advanced.  For example, if you are short $300 until payday, a loan could cost $69.  Defaulting on payment could cost additional interest at a 30% annual rate and an additional fee of up to $50.

In February 2018, the provincial government will be lowering these fees to $17 and $25. However, even these reduced fees are exorbitant.

As of July 2017, there were 58 licensed payday lenders in the province, with 14 operating in Regina. Those without bank accounts may come to rely on these very expensive payday loans.

BANKING PROBLEMS: LOW & MODERATE INCOMES

  • Limited or no access to banking: Many people with low incomes are unable to cash cheques except at payday lenders.
  • Inadequate identification to open an account.
  • Lack of access to a secure computer.
  • Low or no access to affordable and safe loans and financial services.
  • Holding cheques until funds clear banking system.
  • Not sufficient funds (NSF) charge of $45. 

MAKING BANKING FAIRER

THE BANK ACT

The federal government is currently reviewing Canada’s Bank Act with changes scheduled for 2019.  Changes to make banking and financial services more accessible and affordable for those with low and moderate incomes include the following.

Mandate banks and credit unions to:

  • Provide access to low interest credit for emergencies.
  • Provide low interest overdraft loans for times when you need money but have none in your account.
  • Eliminate holds on cheques so funds are deposited in your account when you cash a cheque.
  • Reduce NSF fees from $45 to $10.
  • Create a national anti-predatory lending strategy.
  • Make it easier for people with low incomes to open accounts. 

POSTAL BANKING.

With over 6,000 post office locations across Canada, having banking services at post offices would make banking more accessible, especially to those in small towns, rural areas, and Indigenous communities. And financial products for low income earners would offer a genuine alternative to payday lenders.

Postal banking has been a success in many countries. It’s time to bring postal banking to Canada.

WHAT WE CAN DO

  1. Send emails to Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau demanding fair banking for all Canadians: justintrudeau@parl.gc.ca; Morneau@parl.gc.ca

Further information and an online form for a letter are available  at the Acorn Canada website: https://www.acorncanada.org/take-action/fight-fair-banking

  1. Talk to your MP and encourage him to support fair banking and postal banking in Saskatchewan and Canada.

Regina ‒ Lewvan: Erin Weir, 306-790-4747

Regina ‒ Qu’Appelle: Andrew Scheer, 306-332-2575

Regina ‒ Wascana: Hon. Ralph Goodale, 306-585-2202

3. If you have concerns about a loan you have made contact Saskatchewan’s Consumer Credit Division at 306-787-6700. They may be able to help you.

The Fair Banking campaign is organized and sponsored by Acorn Canada: Uniting Communities for Justice.   https://www.acorncanada.org/
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