Standing up for Westman Credit Unions

Yesterday I spoke out in Parliament against the federal government’s ruling that decreed Credit Unions were no longer allowed to use the words “bank”, “banker” and “banking”.  Since the announcement from the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, I have been working with Westman Credit Unions to urge the federal government to reverse this decision.

I have spoken to long time Credit Union members who are irritated the federal government can unilaterally make this change and waste millions of dollars. In fact, the administrative costs to the 300 Credit Unions across Canada to change and popularize other unknown terms and order new signs are estimated to cost millions of dollars.

This decision, which was originally announced in the middle of summer, was quickly denounced across the country and for the time being, the government has stated they will launch a second round of consultations.  It is unclear if this is a stalling tactic or if the government intends to clarify the Bank Act, which regulates such matters.

The original ruling by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions stated there would be a blanket prohibition on the use of terms like “bank”, “banker”, and “banking” by basically any entity other than the big banks. Credit Unions, who have traditionally been allowed to use common terms like “bank with us” or “online banking”, would no longer be allowed to do so.

It is expected that Credit Union members will have to absorb the costs if the federal government does not back down. It is estimated that the administrative costs to change and popularize other unknown terms and order new signs are estimated to be over $80 million.

Credit Unions are not just popular in Manitoba, as there are over 300 nationwide that serve over 5.5 million members.​ They provide a community-focused approach to finances and are regularly recognized as leaders in customer service.

In constituencies such as mine, the Credit Union is the only financial institution left in many rural communities. They are pillars in our communities and are one of the most philanthropic industries in the country.

I have called on all Members of Parliament to work together to fix this calamity and restore some common-sense.

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