Bank Accountability Campaign

Advocating for stronger, more effectively enforced accountability measures for Canada’s big banks and other financial institutions

Key Links

  • Please also view the Canadian Community Reinvestment Coalition (CCRC) website. The CCRC was organized and is coordinated by Democracy Watch and its partner organization, the Democracy Education Network. The CCRC was launched in December 1996, and since then Democracy Watch has done almost all of its bank accountability work in conjunction with the CCRC.

Bank Accountability Campaign 1993-2011 archive (archive website)

The Opportunity

Canada’s big six banks reported record annual profits in 2012 totalling more than $29 billion (15% higher than in 2011, and double their profits in 2009), and are giving bonuses to their executives of $10.3 billion (51% higher than in 2008). But still the federal government continues to fail to require the banks to do anything to ensure better service and prices for customers, and more responsible lending and investing, even though during 2009-2010 the government offered the banks the largest subsidy ever of up to $135 billion (most of it by having CMHC purchase mortgages from the banks).

The federal government has an ongoing review of the Bank Act and Insurance Companies Act — so please let the government know you want Canada’s banking law strengthened to prevent and penalize gouging and abuse of customers, businesses and communities by Canada’s big banks.

In addition, the federal government has an ongoing public consultation process on the review process for bank mergers.

No matter what issue or problem concerns you, strengthening the federal bank accountability systems will help you win the changes and solutions you are pushing for.

Now is a key time to send a strong message to the leaders of all the federal political parties that you are fed up with the dishonest, unethical, secretive, unrepresentative, and wasteful actions of bank executives and you want key changes to make everyone involved in Canada’s big banks act honestly, ethically, openly, responsibly and to prevent waste.

On bank honesty, ethics, openness, responsibility and waste prevention reforms, the federal government has not heard from citizens or citizen groups enough to counter the power of bank lobby groups.  It is important that you let the government know that you want significant bank accountability reforms.

Canada’s big banks spend about $500 million annually on their lobbying, protection and promotion efforts (advertising, lawyers etc.), including having about 100 full-time lobbyists across the country. In contrast, there are only about 5 citizen group lobbyists spending only about $50,000 annually on bank accountability efforts. As a result, Canadians must all work together and push hard if there is any hope to counter the bank lobby and win key bank accountability changes.

Democracy Watch and the nation-wide Canadian Community Reinvestment Coalition (CCRC) that it coordinates, made up of 100 citizen groups from across Canada with a combined total membership of more than 3 million Canadians, are leading the push for key accountability reforms in Canada.


The bank mergers proposed in 1998 were stopped, but TD Bank was allowed to take over Canada Trust in February 2000, banks and other financial institutions continue to provide poor service to many Canadians, and bank mergers will likely be proposed in the future.

The federal government released a policy paper on financial services at the end of June 1999, and introduced draft legislation in the form of Bill C-38 on June 13, 2000, but Bill C-38 was derailed by the fall 2000 federal election.

Bill C-38 was re-introduced as Bill C-8 in February 2001, and was passed by Parliament in June 2001.

Bill C-8 contained some good measures, but left some key gaps in bank regulation (For details, see Comparison Between Bill C-8 and CCRC Recommendations).

In late 2006, the federal government introduced Bill C-37 (which passed in April 2007) but it contained a couple of ineffective measures that only slightly increase bank accountability in Canada (For details, see the CCRC’s Analysis of Bill C-37).

In 2012, Bill S-5 was passed, but all it did was strengthen a couple of measures and increase penalties from $250,000 maximum to $500,000 maximum (which is much too low).