Canadians will elect a new government September 20. Each of Canada’s major parties has published a platform that describes the priorities it would implement if elected.
To help voters understand how the parties compare on important consumer protection issues, Consumers Council of Canada will publish platform excerpts. The issues selected were identified by the Council’s Public Interest Network (PIN) as the most important current consumer protection matters in recent questionnaires. Comparisons on other policy priorities are available from the CBC and elsewhere.
Topic: Financial Services and Banking
Record-high bank profits during the pandemic have raised concerns that multiple bank issues – poor complaint handling, high account fees and high fees charged to merchants to accept credit card transactions – require action.
The Liberal platform has a number of pledges related to banking and finance. A liberal government would:
- “Require financial institutions to offer flexible repayment options by default if you fall or hard times or face a life event that causes financial stress.
- “Establish a single, independent ombudsperson for handling consumer complaints involving banks, with the power to impose binding arbitration
- “Crack down on predatory lenders by lowering the criminal rate of interest.
- “Enhance the powers of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada to review the prices charged by banks and impose changes if they are excessive.
- “Move forward with a made-in-Canada model of open banking that will launch no later than the beginning of 2023.
- “Modernize Canada’s payments technology to deliver faster and lower cost options so that you can securely and conveniently manage money, pay bills and transfer funds to loved ones around the world.”
The Conservative platform includes a promise to strengthen the Code of Conduct for the Credit and Debit Card industry to “better protect consumers and small businesses from fraud and things like unwarranted chargebacks that can be devastating for them.”
For individual consumers, the party plans to bring in legislation on open banking “so that Canadians can connect with fintech companies that can give provide (sic) a better offer for banking services such as a mortgage, line of credit or credit card.” It will order the Competition Bureau to investigate bank fees, require more transparency for investment management fees “so that seniors and savers don’t get ripped off” and require banks to show investment returns net of fees.
Its platform includes a requirement that financial advisers “offer advice that is your best financial interest, and not what is best for the bank’s bottom line. This will include more powers to investigate and enforce those rules, and compensation for consumers who have been misled.”
It pledges to work with Canada Post to develop postal banking to help “nearly two million Canadians access more affordable, quality banking services where none are currently available.”
It also proposes capping credit card merchant fees at a maximum of 1%.