Letters: Banks and Consumers

By Duff Conacher on March 19, 2009

It is not surprising that Canada’s big banks are still profitable, given that the federal government has offered them and other financial institutions more than $250 billion in direct and indirect subsidies in the past few months.

What remains incredible is that no federal government in the past 20 years has required any financial institution to do anything in return for these and past costly subsidies.

Why do the Liberals and Conservatives, that both claim they want to win a majority government, continue to do so much to protect a few big bank executives and their multi-million dollar paycheques while doing so little to protect 25 million financial consumers and investors?

ATM-bw.jpgAll these financial institutions are using Canadians’ money to make money, and so we have a right to know the details of how they are making money, and losing it, and to require them to treat every customer fairly and well and to charge fair prices, and to penalize the executives who lose or abuse our money through overly risky investments or investments in irresponsible or criminal businesses, or unfair service to particular customers.

If the federal government would finally start auditing the big banks’ and other financial institutions’ prices, lending, investment and service records annually to ensure fairness and responsibility, and assessing regularly the level of actual competition in basic financial services in communities across Canada, it would help all Canadians and the economy.

Finally, the government should require financial institutions to facilitate the creation of a financial consumer watchdog group by enclosing a one-page pamphlet in their mailings to customers that invites them to join the group.

Until these accountability measures are in place, the big banks and other financial institutions will continue to gouge and abuse consumers, investors and communities across Canada, and to waste our money on risky schemes that do little to create jobs or sustain our economy.



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