Government of Canada cheques – Refusal to cash
Bank Act, s 458.1(1)
Access to Basic Banking Services Regulations, s. 8
A bank refused to cash a Government of Canada cheque for a consumer who was not a customer and who presented two valid pieces of identification. The amount of the cheque was less than $1,500 and, as such, was subject to the Access to Basic Banking Services Regulations.
Subsection 458.1(1) of the Bank Act requires banks which are members of the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation and which open retail deposit accounts through a natural person to cash Government of Canada cheques (up to $1,500) for non-customers who present two valid pieces of identification, as set out by the Regulations.
Section 8 of the Regulations sets out the types of identification that are acceptable and states that, if the consumer has only one piece of acceptable identification, he or she has the option of having his or her identity confirmed by a client in good standing with the member bank or by an individual of good standing in the community.
While the Regulations came into force just before the refusal, the concept of access to basic banking has been in place since 1997 through the Canadian Bankers Association’s Public Commitment to Basic Banking Services. Additionally, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) emphasized the importance of this consumer right through an extensive consultation process with the financial industry before the enforcement of the Regulations began.
The refusal was the result of the actions of an employee who did not follow the bank’s procedures. As such, the case is considered was an isolated event, and not a systemic problem.
Measures taken by financial institution
As a result of FCAC’s intervention, the Branch Manager:
- reinforced the initial training and communication surrounding the implementation of the Regulations; and
- reviewed the internal procedures for cashing government cheques and opening personal deposit accounts with staff.
In this case, the consumer was able to finally cash the cheque. No matter what their financial situation or banking habits, consumers have a right to cash their Government of Canada cheques (up to $1,500). The ability to cash federal government cheques is an important right for Canadian financial consumers. 2
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