Remarks by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance on ensuring Canadians are treated fairly by their banks


October 17, 2023

Ottawa, ON

Good afternoon.

I will first speak to a number of new measures intended to ensure Canadians are treated fairly by their banks.

Then, I will turn it over to Minister Champagne, who will speak to our government’s efforts to increase competition in the grocery sector, and then to Minister Anand, who will speak about the spending review that I announced in the spring budget and which she is now working hard to deliver.

Before I begin, I would like to briefly address the inflation data released this morning.    

Inflation in September was 3.8 per cent—down from 4 per cent in August. The decline in headline inflation was broad-based, including on the price of food.

And, encouragingly, both of the Bank of Canada’s measures of core inflation also eased in September.

The trend is in the right direction, and that is good news for Canadians.

When it comes to ensuring that Canadians are treated fairly by their banks, we are taking action in four ways.

First: just over a week ago I met with the CEOs of Canada’s largest banks, and I told them that it is my firm expectation that they abide by our government’s mortgage guidelines, as published by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.

Our objective is to protect Canadians by ensuring their financial institutions treat them fairly and provide them with the tailored mortgage relief they need—all with the goal of helping Canadians who are today struggling with higher mortgage payments on their principal residence.

For Canadians with mortgages who are stressed and feeling squeezed, I want you to know that you are entitled to options and flexibility from your financial institution.

Our government will be closely monitoring compliance with these mortgage rules in the coming weeks. We understand it is a challenging time for Canadians, and we want them to know we are there for them.

Second: to make banking more affordable, I have instructed the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada to work on making no- and low-cost bank accounts more readily available to more Canadians.    

Charges can rack up, for example, when it comes to online payments, debit transactions, e-transfers, or digital banking services—which have become central to how so many Canadians make payments and handle their banking today.    

At my direction today, the Financial Consumer Agency will now work to ensure that a greater number of banks offer enhanced and modernized no- and low-cost accounts to a greater number of Canadians.

Third: we are cracking down on junk fees, starting with the non-sufficient fund fees that banks can currently charge Canadians.

These fees, which can be as high as $50, disproportionately impact the most vulnerable Canadians, some of whom are living paycheque to paycheque.

My department will determine how much these fees can be lowered, and we will take further action in our Fall Economic Statement to crack down on unfair junk fees.

And fourth: in order to ensure Canadians can count on always being treated fairly when dealing with their financial institution, I am designating the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments as Canada’s single, independent, transparent, not-for-profit external complaints body for the banking sector.

For too long, banks have been able to choose who adjudicates complaints from Canadians. Canadians have asked for and deserve better—and with an independent, transparent, and not-for-profit Ombudsperson, that is what they will receive.

I also want to quickly address the B.C. government’s new legislation to regulate the short-term rental market. This is a positive and important step in the right direction in an area of provincial jurisdiction.

We know that short-term rentals through sites like Airbnb and Vrbo mean fewer homes for Canadians to rent and live in full time, especially in urban and populated areas of our country.

That is why our government is actively examining what options and tools exist at the federal level to ensure more short-term rentals are made available as long-term rentals—as permanent homes—for Canadians to live in.

We will have more to announce on that in the weeks to come.

Thank you very much.

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