Ontario Government lets payday lenders off the hook

From Richmond Times Dispatch.
From Richmond Times Dispatch.

After dragging its heels for months, the Ontario Government has finally acted on a promise to do something about the huge rates charged by the payday loan industry in this province. As readers in Weston / Mount Dennis are painfully aware, these stores have proliferated in our communities and prey mainly on the poor, charging as much as 21% for a two-week loan; an eye-watering annual rate of 14,299%.

All of this was made possible in 2006 by the lovely Vic Toews, then Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the late lamented Conservative government. His bill made it legal for companies to charge more than (the then) usurious rate of 60% annually by giving provinces the power to regulate their own loan rates. Ontario opened the flood gates in 2008 and the payday loan industry hasn’t looked back.

The provincial Liberal government, instead of taking leadership, has listened to the Payday Loan lobby and rather than lowering rates drastically, they have decided to take the line of least resistance. They are quietly proposing that as of January 2017, rates for a two-week loan drop to 18% and then in January 2018, rates will become 15%, matching those of Alberta. While this is a good start, there is nothing in the legislation that addresses the dire plight of people forced to borrow at such appalling rates. 15% may sound better, but it is still 3,724% compounded annually.

Here is John Oliver’s take on Payday Loans.

Does Ontario have to go this route? Quite simply, no.

Quebec has taken the lead and they cap annual loan rates at 35%. As a result, there are no payday loan companies in that province.

That is the example that Ontario needs to follow and would help poor in our province dig their way out of poverty. In addition, some pressure on our hugely profitable banks and credit unions to provide loans to the poor would not go amiss.

If readers would like to comment on the proposed changes to the act, the Ontario Government isn’t making things easy. The contact page is here and a written submission may be sent via email or snail mail.

MPP Laura Albanese’s contact information is here and her constituency phone number is 416-243-7984.


Schein’s Bill passes first reading

Davenport MPP Jonah Schein tabled a private member’s bill in the Ontario Legislature on Thursday May 3rd. The bill amends the Metrolinx Act of 2006 and passed its first reading (this is a formality – the hard part is yet to come). The bill’s wording is interesting as well as brief:

Bill 83 2012

An Act to amend the Metrolinx Act, 2006

Note: This Act amends the Metrolinx Act, 2006. For the legislative history of the Act, see the Table of Consolidated Public Statutes – Detailed Legislative History at www.e-Laws.gov.on.ca.

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows:

1. The Metrolinx Act, 2006 is amended by adding the following section:

Passenger railway to airport

5.1 The Corporation shall ensure that any passenger railway system established between downtown Toronto and Toronto Pearson International Airport is not powered by diesel fuel.


2. This Act comes into force on the day it receives Royal Assent.

Short title

3. The short title of this Act is the Metrolinx Amendment Act, 2012.


Instead of asking for electrification, the bill asks that the Airport Link is not powered by diesel fuel.

As mentioned above, the next stage of the bill is the hard part. In the second stage Jonah Schein will be allowed to speak to the bill for up to ten minutes and then time is given for other parties to respond. Unless the bill passes its second reading unanimously, it will be referred to the ‘Committee of the Whole House’ where the bill is discussed more informally in the legislature and where it can be modified.

Stay tuned!

Schein to launch electrification bid in Legislature today

Today May 3, Davenport NDP MPP Jonah Schein is putting forward a private member’s bill that calls for electrification of the Georgetown corridor Air Rail Link. Schein has long been campaigning for electrification along the line and is hopeful that the bill will become law. Private member bills can pass without bringing down a government and although the NDP do not have a majority in the Legislature, the NDP caucus is likely to vote en masse for the bill since Andrea Horvath, Ontario NDP leader is on record as supporting electrification. It will be interesting to see how the Tories and especially York South Weston MPP Laura Albanese will vote in this regard.

Here is the text of the announcement that came in an email from the Clean Train Coalition:


Hello again! On Thursday, May 3rd a private member’s bill calling for electrification of the Georgetown corridor for the Air Rail Link will be introduced at the Ontario Legislature by Jonah Schein, the MPP for Davenport. We have just received word from Queens Park that this is moved up on the schedule and is now to take place at 1 p.m. on Thursday. You are welcome to attend and view from the gallery when the bill is introduced.

Right now, with a minority government in Queen’s Park, we can win this vote by reaching out, once more, to members from all parties. Please help us in this effort by contacting your MPP and cc Premier McGuinty. Tell them that they must vote in favour of this bill. Tell them we do not accept the plan to run diesel trains though our neighbourhoods, next to our schools, our parks, our houses and businesses. And we will not sit by while our air is further polluted. Rather, we will fight for what we know is right: clean, electric, accessible and affordable transit.

Please, take a moment to email your MPP, and cc Premier McGuinty ([email protected]). The addresses of politicians along the corridor are below. A complete list of MPP’s contact details can be found here. In addition to emailing, call Premier McGuinty (416-325-1941) and tell him yourself: Toronto demands clean electric trains, not dirty diesels!

The Clean Train Coalition has a long history of building cross-partisan support for our goals. We have worked productively with members of all political parties.
Thank you for your support. Clean Transit is possible.
The Clean Train Coalition


LIST OF MPPs along the Union to Pearson rail corridor

  • Jagmeet Singh
    Brampton Gore Malton
    Queen’s Park: 416-325-1784
    Constituency: 905-799-3939
  • Shafiq Qaadri
    Etobicoke North
    [email protected]
    Queen’s Park: 416-327-6611
    Constituency: 416-745-2859
  • Laura Albanese
    York South-Weston
    [email protected]
    Queen’s Park: 416-212-9790
    Constituency: 416-243-7984
  • Jonah Schein
    [email protected]
    Queen’s Park: 416-325-0014
    Constituency: 416-535-3158
  • Cheri DiNovo
    Parkdale-High Park
    [email protected]
    Queen’s Park: 416-325-0244
    Constituency: 416-763-5630
  • Rosario Marchese
    [email protected]
    Queen’s Park: 416-325-9092
    Constituency: 416-603-9664
  • AND…
    Premier Dalton McGuinty
    [email protected]416-325-1941!