Decision #77155-828Q307

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

File: 77155-828Q307

Compliance issue

Branch closure — Request for a public meeting between the bank, interested parties and FCAC to discuss a branch closure
Bank Act, s. 459.2(2)
Notice of Branch Closure (Banks) Regulations, s.9

A consumer requested that the Commissioner require a bank to hold a meeting with the bank, interested parties and FCAC representatives to discuss the bank’s decision to close a branch.

According to subsection 459.2(2) of the Bank Act, the Commissioner may require a bank to hold a meeting, in the vicinity of the branch, with representatives of the bank, interested parties and FCAC, to ensure that the bank had consulted the community sufficiently about the closure.

Section 9 of the Notice of Branch Closure (Banks) Regulations states that the Commissioner may require a public meeting in circumstances where a bank has not consulted sufficiently with the community in the area affected by a branch closure, or where an individual or community representative submits a written request to the Commissioner, or where the request is not frivolous or vexatious.

Decision taken

The Commissioner did not grant the request for a public meeting.

Compliance considerations

The consumer was concerned that there would no longer be a bank branch or an automated banking machine (ABM) within walking distance, and that many seniors would no longer have access to a bank.

The Commissioner only received one request for a meeting and did not receive any complaints related to the branch closure. The bank informed FCAC that it had only received 17 inquiries and complaints at the branch, concerning the closure.

The bank provided sufficient and proper notice to consumers, the public and the Commissioner prior to the closure, in accordance with the Regulations.

Measures taken by financial institution

The bank sent letters announcing the closure to all of the branch’s customers. The letter included phone numbers to call in case customers had any questions or concerns. In addition, the bank displayed a notice about the closure in the branch and also handed out leaflets informing customers of the branch closure. Branch employees and the area manager were proactive in discussing the closure with clients who visited the branch during a two-day event marking the branch's anniversary. The branch manager also contacted the customer who had requested the public meeting to discuss the closure.

Outcomes

It is important that consumers be able to communicate openly with their bank in the event of a branch closure. This provides consumers and community members with an opportunity to explore ways to ease any negative impact the closure may have on them and on the community as a whole.

In this case, the bank had consulted with the community enough to be aware of its views and to ensure that consumers had the information they needed to find other options and to plan for the closure.

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