Decision #841390-42Q204

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

File: 841390-42Q204

Compliance issue

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

After learning that his bank branch would be selling a portion of its business to another financial institution and closing its local branch, a consumer wrote to FCAC to request that the Commissioner call a public meeting between the bank, interested parties and FCAC to discuss the bank’s decision. The consumer’s request included a petition signed by 223 customers affected and a resolution from the town council.

According to section 459.2(2) of the Bank Act, the Commissioner may require the bank to convene and hold a meeting, in the vicinity of the branch, between representatives of the bank, interested parties and FCAC, in order to exchange views 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 the community well enough to ascertain its views on the closure, where an individual or community representative submits a written request to the Commissioner, and where the request is not frivolous or vexatious.

Decision taken

The request for the Commissioner to require a public meeting was granted.

Considerations

The bank met its legal obligation to inform consumers and the Commissioner of the branch closure. However, the town council resolution provided to FCAC alleged that the community had not been consulted. In the event of a branch closure, FCAC closely monitors the community’s reaction. Given the views expressed in the town council resolution and the fact that over 200 consumers had signed a petition, it was the Commissioner’s view that the bank had not sufficiently consulted the community in order to ascertain its views on the closure.

Consultation measures taken by the financial institution

  • Sent a letter to all customers affected five months in advance, advising them of the pending branch closure.
  • Consulted with local community leaders, including the Mayor, a local Member of Parliament, a local Member of the National Assembly and the town manager.
  • Issued a news release announcing the closure. The news release was subsequently posted on the Internet, and in the branch.

Outcomes

Consumers must be aware of, and have the ability to exercise, their right to request a public meeting between the bank, interested parties and FCAC in the event of a branch closure. It is important that consumers be given the opportunity to discuss the branch closure with their bank, so that they are able to explore ways of easing any negative impact the closure may have on their lives and on the community as a whole.

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