FCAC launches call for applications for Canada’s single external complaints body for banking
Call supports Budget 2023 commitment to achieve a fairer external complaints handling system for financial consumers
May 11, 2023
Today, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) launched a call for applications for eligible entities to serve as Canada’s single banking external complaints body (ECB). The process supports the government’s Budget 2023 commitment to achieve a fairer external complaints handling system for financial consumers.
FCAC protects financial consumers by supervising the compliance of federally regulated financial entities, including banks and ECBs, with their legislative obligations, codes of conduct and public commitments, and by strengthening the financial literacy of Canadians.
In Budget 2023, the government announced its intention to strengthen the external complaints handling system for banks by designating a single, not-for-profit entity to be the sole ECB, following a selection process led by FCAC. The proposal is contained in Bill C-47, the Budget Implementation Act, 2023.
Impartial and effective complaints handling builds trust and confidence in financial institutions and is an important contributor to consumer protection. The move to a single ECB is in the best interest of Canadians. It addresses findings from FCAC’s 2020 report on the Operations of External Complaints Bodies, which found that Canada's current multiple-ECB model introduces inefficiencies and complexities, and is not consistent with international standards.
FCAC is committed to conducting an open, fair and transparent application process. Applicants are expected to clearly articulate how they meet the requirements to effectively serve as Canada’s single ECB, as outlined in FCAC’s call for applications.
The single ECB, which will be designated by the Minister of Finance on a recommendation of FCAC, will be responsible for providing a fair and impartial external process for consumers whose complaints have not been resolved by banks to their satisfaction, or dealt with in a timely manner.
“Our government is delivering on our commitment to ensure that Canadians are treated fairly in their dealings with banks. This is an important first step in our plan to establish a single not-for-profit external complaints body, which will enhance the confidence and trust that Canadians have in our financial system.”
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance
“Consumer protection is enhanced when financial consumers have access to a fair and effective external dispute resolution system. The process must be easy for them to use, include the timely resolution of their issues, and not permit banks to choose the external complaints body they participate in. Designating a single, non-profit, external complaints body will simplify complaint handling in banking and is in the best interests of Canadians.”
Judith Robertson, Commissioner, Financial Consumer Agency of Canada
An external complaints body (ECB) is an organization that is independent from banks that provides a free and impartial review of consumer complaints about banking services and products. An ECB can recommend a resolution of a complaint.
All banks must be a member of an ECB. Under Canada’s current multi-ECB system, Canadian banks must select one of two ECBs approved by the Minister of Finance: the ADR Chambers Banking Ombuds Office (ADRBO) or the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI).
Consumers can ask an ECB to review their complaint if it has not been resolved to their satisfaction through a bank’s internal complaints process, or if 56 days have passed since the bank received the complaint.
The government’s legislative measures to designate a not-for-profit body corporate to be Canada’s single external complaints body are contained in Bill C-47, which was tabled in the House of Commons on April 20, 2023.
Parties interested in becoming Canada’s single ECB have until June 26, 2023, to submit their applications to FCAC.
FCAC will review the applications and make a recommendation to the Minister of Finance, who is responsible for designating the single ECB.
- Public notice calling for applications for a single external complaints body for banking
- Industry review: The Operations of External Complaints Bodies
- Industry review: Bank Complaint Handling Procedures
- How to file a complaint with your financial institution
- Consumer information on external complaints bodies
Financial Consumer Agency of Canada
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