(This story originally appeared at www.hamiltonjustice.ca)
Maybe you missed this announcement in December from the Ontario government?
"Our government is committed to protecting consumers and helping people in their everyday lives. This includes lowering the cost for taking out a payday loan, and further changes to ensure that financial services are fairer and more transparent for all. " — Marie-France Lalonde, Minister of Government and Consumer Services
This is how the Minister characterizes lowering the maximum total cost of borrowing for a payday loan from $21 to $18 per $100 borrowed. That new protection will happen on of January 1, 2017. This move, after years of dilly dallying, lowers the interest rate that predatory lenders can charge from 546% to 390% per annum. The Criminal Code says charging anything above 60% is a crime. But Ontario and most other provinces believe an exemption is in order for this so-called industry. (We’ve written before on this. See http://www.hamiltonjustice.ca/blog?post=Province+Getting+it+Wrong+on+Payday+Loans&id=369)
Legislating the Banks
Prior to the Ontario announcement, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives put out a report developed through a survey of ACORN Canada members who have accessed payday loans.
In A Survey of High Interest Alternative Financial Services, author Joe Fantauzzi concludes that banks “through denying low and moderate income families access to credit, are driving people to access fringe high interest products like payday loans, installment loans and more.”
So, the federal government should insist that banks be more responsive to low and middle-income families. The report suggests that access to low interest credit for emergencies and low interest overdraft protection be legislated. Lowering NSF fees from $45 to $10 and ensuring no-holds on cheques would be positive changes. Alternatives to predatory lenders like a postal bank and credit union products geared to moderate and low income households are also called for. Here is the report.
Together with the payday loan industry the Ontario government has become a partner in predation.
Perhaps the federal government can change this. The CCPA’s report shows how.