Advocating for stronger, more effectively enforced accountability measures for Canada’s big banks and other financial institutions
Bank Accountability Campaign 1993-2011 archive (archive website)
While businesses in most sectors across Canada were suffering, Canada’s big 6 banks gouged out record annual profits of almost $35 billion in 2015 (which works out to almost $4 million in profit every hour, 5% higher than in 2014, and double their profits in 2010). The big banks also continued in 2015 paying their CEOs about $10 million each, and also giving them bonuses that totalled more than $10 million (51% higher than in 2008).
In 2016, Canada’s big 6 banks continued to gouge out excessively high profits of more than $37 billion (6% higher than in 2015) – in part by firing thousands of people, cutting services, and hiking fees and credit card interest rates. And their profits in 2017 are headed even higher — they already made $10.5 billion in just 3 months.
Canada’s big banks make the highest percentage profits of any comparable banks in the industrialized world while doing far too little to give fair and equitable support to job-creating businesses across Canada.
In a Fall 2016 public consultation report, the federal government points to all these problems — including the fact that Canada’s big banks control more than 90% of the banking market in the country, which gives them even more power to gouge and treat business and individual customers unfairly.
But still the federal government continues to fail to require the banks serve everyone well at fair prices, or to require responsible lending and investing, even though the government gave the banks a record $114 billion bailout in 2008-2009 (most of it by having CMHC purchase mortgages from the banks), and even though the federal government will likely bail out the banks again if they have any financial difficulties.
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).