TD Canada Trust closing Weston branch.

TD Canada Trust bids farewell to Weston and hundreds of potential new customers.

TD Canada Trust has officially announced the upcoming closure of its Weston branch at 1979 Weston Road. Adam broke the story last year. The bean counters at TD Canada Trust have decided that closing the Weston branch will save them more money than the potential loss of clients. According to the bank handout regarding the closure,

Prior to making a decision to close a particular branch and move customer accounts to another branch, TD Canada Trust always undertakes a thorough review of the customer impact of the move. If our review indicates that the move may result in some particular concerns for all or a certain group of the affected customers, TD Canada Trust will hold an information session to discuss our plans and how we propose to deal with those concerns.

From September 21, Weston customers who stay with TD will be expected to schlep along to 2547 Weston Road at the 401. It’s another example of the banking industry reaping huge profits while abandoning their customers. This also makes room for payday loan companies to fill the void; unconscionable in a community with a fair number of vulnerable residents.

There is a ray of hope via a federal government agency called ‘The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada‘ (FCAC).  According to the blurb that came with news of the closure,

“You should know, however, that under the regulations, the Commissioners of the FCAC may require TD Canada Trust representatives to hold and attend a meeting with FCAC representatives and interested parties, in order to exchange views about the closure of a branch IF:

  1. An individual from the area affected by the closure of the branch submits a written request to the FCAC for the meeting; and

2. TD Canada Trust has not adequately consulted the community about the branch closure; and

3. The request is not frivolous or vexatious.”

I’d like to know who the bank consulted with before deciding it was ok to close the branch. My wife has an account at the branch and this is the first she’d heard about the closing.

If you feel you haven’t been consulted enough about the move, submit your non-frivolous written request to:

Financial Consumer Agency of Canada
427 Laurier Avenue West, 6th Floor
Ottawa ON K1R 1B9

Phone contact for TD Canada Trust: 1-866-222-3456

Phone contact for FCAC: 1-866-461-3222

Perhaps this is where York South-Weston’s non-resident MP, Honourable Ahmed Hussen could get involved. Scotiabank’s closing was seemingly ignored by Mr. Hussen – a self-described social activist. I contacted his office and a staff member said they would pass my concerns about the latest bank closing to the minister.

Ahmed Hussen MP: 416-656-2526

 

Another bank closes

In the ongoing story of banks bailing and gutless governments, the CIBC at Weston and Eglinton has permanently closed and ‘merged’ with a branch 3 km away.

A TD, Scotiabank, and an RBC branch have already closed in York South–Weston. The TD bank at Weston and Church is slated to close by the end of 2018.

The bank closures are not for want of profits: there are at least 15 payday loan shops in the riding.

Province seeking input on payday loan shops

Frances Nunziata is asking for you to give the province input on payday loan, rent-to-own and cheque cashing stores—what she calls “predatory lenders”. The proposed changes would make payday loans less attractive.

financial institutions
A search for cheque-cashing shops

For payday loan shops, province is considering

  1. Extended payment periods for repeat borrowers
  2. Lowered lending limits
  3. An extended, six-day waiting period
  4. Clear display of the cost of borrowing and credit counselling information

Most intriguingly, the province is also asking that credit unions be exempt from these regulations.

You can provide feedback on all the proposed changes.

 

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.

 

Alberta Clips Payday Loan Companies

source: angelafee.tumblr.com
source: angelafee.tumblr.com

As readers are painfully aware, the Weston / Mount Dennis area is plagued by a large number of payday loan companies. These pseudo banks prey on the poor by charging high rates thus continuing the cycle of poverty that poor people (and those with a low credit rating) often find themselves in. Scotiabank’s recent departure from Lawrence and Weston didn’t help and it seems that computerization will encourage more banks to close their branches.

Each year, approximately 400,000 Ontarians take out a payday loan

There are 796 payday loan licensed locations in Ontario, operated by 249 different businesses

Approximately $1.1 – $1.5 billion in payday loans are issued each year

The average payday loan is $460 and has a two-week term

Sources: Estimates developed by Deloitte and Ministry of Consumer Services payday lending licensee database

Alberta is going through some tough times lately and to help stem the exploitation of people with a poor credit rating, the NDP government there has cut the interest rates that PLCs can charge. Alberta will now have the lowest rate in the country at $15 for every $100 borrowed over a period of two weeks.

In Ontario the rate is $21 per $100 which compounded annually is a startling 14,299%. There has been talk of lowering the rate but a bill to amend the laws around PLCs has been languishing in a committee that was supposed to report this spring. Payday loan companies have a fairly well-connected lobby group fronted by Tony Irwin of the Canadian Payday Loan Association. Irwin maintains that if rates go down, some PLCs will close thus driving lenders to loan sharks. From what I can gather, in the days before PLCs put loan sharks out of business, loan sharks charged around 6% to 10% a week. Slightly less than today’s PLCs. Collection tactics were a bit more assertive however.

So, Ontario – the ball is in your court. Where is the committee report and legislation that will curb predatory lenders? Where are the banks and credit unions in all of this and why are they not making better efforts to reach the poor?

Nunziata Pressures Payday Lenders

Mike Sullivan was no sooner out of his campaign office when this company set up shop at 1942 Weston Road.
Former MP Mike Sullivan was no sooner out of his campaign office when Cash Z way  set up shop at 1942 Weston Road.

Payday loan companies (PLCs) paint themselves as businesses that help out people in times of need. They also claim to help people with middle class incomes. Since the province legalized their brutal rates of $21 per loan of $100, PLCs have proliferated. Incredibly that loan rate in real terms is 120,000% annually. PLCs claim that the loan is only for a short period of less than a month and so actual interest paid is low. However, there is evidence that many people get deeply in debt by paying one loan off with another from a rival PLC.

Back in 2012, PLC front man (former Liberal MP) Stan Keyes claimed to WestonWeb that payday loan customers have a median income of $45,000.

Councillor Frances Nunziata is not a fan of Payday loan companies. Weston is littered with them and no doubt without victims customers they would go out of business. In the past she has tried to limit their proliferation with measures that would essentially harass them through inspections. Council at the time was unsupportive. It’s hard to go after a business that is operating legally.

MPP Laura Albanese is working on the problem from another angle but barring the province lowering the boom on companies charging such huge rates, (where are you Kathleen?) this City initiative seems to be the best alternative. The tactic tried successfully in other cities has been to limit the number of PLC stores in an area. Nunziata’s motion co-sponsored with Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and put before Council this month will aim to limit PLCs by legislating a minimum distance between them.

Read more in this Toronto Star article.