Consumer Advocates Launch Campaign Calling for One Banking Ombudsman

Toronto – September 25, 2018 – CARP, the Consumers Council of Canada and FAIR Canada are calling on the Government of Canada to protect banking consumers by appointing a single, not-for-profit organization to act as the ombudsman for the retail banking sector across the country. CARP, the Consumers Council of Canada and FAIR Canada have launched a letter writing campaign to parliamentarians to call on them to act and protect consumers. Consumers can visit carp.ca/oneombuds and make their voices heard.

Under the current system in Canada, banks are free to pick their own referee to make sure consumers’ problems are resolved in their favor. Banks are given the freedom to select their external complaints body to resolve consumer complaints that are not resolved at the level of the bank. This forces external dispute resolution firms to compete for banks’ business and puts pressure on them to rule in the banks’ favour, so they will continue to get their business.

Consumers have no say in which provider is used to solve their problem. It makes no sense for consumers to be forced into a situation where they must take their issue to a private, for-profit resolution provider selected by their bank.

“The system as it currently stands is deeply unfair because it protects powerful banks over consumer interests,” said Wanda Morris, Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer, CARP. “This effort is to put consumers, especially the vulnerable and older people, on an equal footing with the banks. Each dispute needs to be resolved fairly by a single, non-profit external body that is accountable, independent, transparent, fair, and accessible.”

“An ill-conceived policy is eroding the modest existing accountability to consumers for how well dispute resolution in banking functions in the country,” said Don Mercer, President of the Consumers Council of Canada. “Given the recent revelations about banking sector sales practices, this state of affairs has become increasingly outrageous.”

“We call on the Government of Canada, as part of its comprehensive review of the consumer protection framework for banking consumers, to designate the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) as the single ombudsman for banking complaints”, says Marian Passmore, Director of Policy & COO of FAIR Canada.

While the Government of Canada is aware of this broken system, they need to hear from concerned Canadians. It’s up to consumers to make their voices heard and to make sure average people have access to justice.

It’s time to stop protecting large, wealthy banks and start putting Canadian consumers first.

About CARP

CARP is a non-profit, non-partisan association representing more than 300,000 older Canadians across Canada. We advocate for better health care, financial security and freedom from ageism. We are supported by our membership and valued corporate partners who offer members discounts and benefits. Visit: www.carp.ca.

Media contact:  Wanda Morris Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer

Email: Media@carp.ca

Call or text: 778-838-7998

About the Consumers Council of Canada

The Consumers Council of Canada is a non-profit, volunteer-based consumer organization, that works to improve consumers’ ability to navigate marketplaces affecting everyday life.

Media contact: Ken Whitehurst, Executive Director

Email: whitehurst@consumerscouncil.com

Call: 416-483-2696

About FAIR Canada

FAIR Canada is an independent national charitable organization. As a voice for Canadian investors and financial consumers, FAIR Canada provides information and education to the public, governments and regulators about investors’ and financial consumers rights and protections in Canada’s capital markets.

Media contact: Marian Passmore, Director of Policy and COO

Email marian.passmore@faircanada.ca

Call: 647-256-6691

October 11, 2018