Fair Fees - Frais équitable

Fair Banking - Our Fair Banking campaign seeks to make mainstream banking fairer, while also fighting to end predatory lending and encourage the creation of alternation banking products for low and moderate income earners. Learn more about our Fair Banking campaign here
Digital Access to Opportunities - Access to the internet has become a necessity, and the high cost of service affects access to opportunities in the job market, in school, and in many other aspects of daily life. ACORN Canada members demand $10/month high speed internet for low income families as part of our Digital Access to Opportunities campaign. Take action on closing the digital divide - sign the petition
Regulate Remittances - Remittances (sending money overseas through money transfer organizations like Western Union) and payday loans are big business in Canada, and thousands of Canadians are getting gouged by companies charging exorbitant fees for these services. ACORN Canada members work for the regulation of these fees and fairness in the remittance and payday loan industries.

The Tyee: Canadian immigrants getting fleeced by money transfer services

Canadian residents who use commercial money transfer services to send funds to family members back home are paying unreasonably high fees, says a non-profit that represents low-income families.

According to ACORN Canada spokesperson Pascal Apuwa, fees levied on international money transfers can be as high as 20 to 25 per cent.

"We are demanding that these agencies reduce their charges and we are asking the government to regulate them," says Apuwa.

According to a spokesperson for the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, there are currently no federal regulations on money transfer fees.

Remittance payments, the term used to describe money that foreign workers send back to their countries of origin, are not only vitally important for the individuals who receive them, says Apuwa, but also constitute a significant flow of funds to developing countries around the world.

Press Release: Western Union and Money Mart’s money transfer fees take 20% of money sent to drought-ravaged East Africa

For immediate release

New Canadians, temporary foreign workers, and others struggling to support loved ones abroad are fed up with the high cost of remittances and money transfers.

The ongoing famine in Somalia, and devastating drought in neighbouring Kenya has one person especially upset.  For Pascal Apuwa - a leader in the national campaign for Remittance Justice – these twin crises’s have made the call for reducing remittance rates ever more urgent.

“Like many new Canadians I send whatever I can afford to send back to my friends and family back in East Africa – and for every dollar I send Western Union gets 20 cents.  I send 100 dollars to help feed people I love, and a massive company keeps $20. That’s wrong, and they need to lower their charges immediately. At this point, because of the drought, that money they are taking from my pocket could save someone’s life!” Pascal Apuwa from Burnaby, BC explains.

KW Record: Migrants’ money channels are a murky world

There is no paper trail. There is no oversight. There are no clear rules. But the cash flow is staggering: roughly $200 billion a year.

This amount, sent home by immigrants and migrant workers through back channels, dwarfs global foreign aid. Canada’s share — approximately $7.5 billion a year — is more than double the country’s official development assistance.

Although these hand-to-hand remittances do a tremendous amount of good in poor countries, they pose serious risks for both senders and governments.

Immigrants have no guarantee their earnings will actually reach their families. The money could be pocketed by greedy middlemen, stolen enroute or whittled down by bribes to corrupt local officials.

Financial authorities have no knowing whether this informal financial system is being used by drug dealers to launder dirty money or terrorist groups to finance international operations. It certainly has the potential to do both.

New Report on Remittances: Voting in a Rigged Election

Today we’re releasing a new report as part of a global effort to achieve transparency and regulation of remittance fees.

This issue is a vital one for Canadian families, especially immigrants, migrant workers and new Canadians, who pay huge fees on the money they send to their families back home.

"Voting with Their Money in a Rigged Election," is the third report in a series from ACORN Canada and ACORN International looking at this unregulated and often unaccountable industry. Click to Download the .PDF of Voting in a Rigged Election

Message to the Department of Finance: Regulate Remittances & Money Transfers Now!

As a closing of the National Community Change Summit, 60 ACORN Canada members came together at an action in front of the Ministry of Finance in Ottawa to draw the Deputy Minister of Finance’s attention to the fees and interest being taken by big banks and money transfer organizations (MTOs) like Western Union when processing remittances.

In fact, hard-working Canadians trying to support families and loved ones abroad paid more in fees and interest than the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) spends in foreign aid each year.  ACORN Canada is calling on the Federal Government to bring in new regulations consistent with the World Bank’s suggested 5% cap on fees.

The action was covered by the Ottawa Citizen, CBC Ottawa, Metro Ottawa and others, and led to securing a commitment from the Deputy Minister to investigate the issue and agree to a follow up meeting with ACORN Canada leaders.

Ottawa Citizen: Group seeks cap on money-transfer fees

From the Ottawa Citizen:

Pascal Apuwa, 38, moved to Canada six years ago from a small village in Kenya. Like many foreign-born Canadians he sends money back to his family in Africa every month. But Apuwa says he's tired of paying the fees money transfer organizations, such as Western Union, place on remittance payments.

He and members of the organization ACORN [Canada], the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, [Canada] are asking federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to cap the fees money transfer organizations can place on remittance payments at five per cent. The group is holding a protest outside the Bank of Canada at 10: 30 a.m. today.

"There is no transparent explanation why it costs me $25 to send $100 to my family in Kenya," Apuwa said. "The only reason I've found is that they think it's all right to pull profits from my family living in a slum in Africa."

According to Statistics Canada, 41 per cent of foreign-born residents living in Canada send money back to their families abroad. Apuwa says he is sometimes charged as much as 16 per cent to send money back home and says there are often additional unexplained charges his family must pay in order to collect the money in Africa. "I feel so bad about it," he said. "This is not the way to help people, I want justice to be done here."

You can find the original article at: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/business/Group+seeks+money+transfer+fees/4973037/story.html

Free Income Tax Site Grows Once Again

Our New 2nd floor office in Metro Vancouver has been busy ever since we moved in in early February of this year. That is because, for the 5th year straight, ACORN Canada’s Free Income Tax Site has been busy doing hundreds of tax returns for members and people in our communities. So far, this year we have done more than 800 tax returns which is an increase of over 30% over our 2010 tax site.

In the 5 years ACORN Canada has done Free Income Taxes in Metro Vancouver we have returned over 6 Million Dollars in tax returns, rebates, and benefits! Add to this that we have saved people $400,000 in tax preparation costs and it is clear that ACORN Canada is a major stimulus to the neighbourhoods where we work!

But that is just the beginning. Our free income tax site gives our members a great opportunity to share their campaigns with people who come to get their taxes done. Our new campaign for Remittance Justice is becoming a very popular topic of serious discussion in the office. Many new people coming in to get their taxes done feel the pain of the exorbitant costs of sending money transfers back to their families and friends. And better still, they are getting involved with ACORN Canada’s campaign for regulatory changes to the Money Transfer Industry.

Regulations that will hold banks and companies like Western Union to account for the predatory business practices here in BC.

We like doing your taxes and if you know anyone who has a simple tax return in need of filing just call 604 5221

Actions nationwide to regulate remittance transfers

March 3, 2011 - Yesterday ACORN Canada members from 20 chapters nationwide called on the Provincial Governments and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) to take immediate steps to regulate the remittance industry in Canada.  Remittance providers have been shown to charge as much as $50 in fees for a simple $100 remittance from Canada to a country in the developing world.

In Metro Vancouver ACORN Canada members marched to the headquarters of the Financial Institutions Commission (FICOM) in Surrey and held a rally.  Leader Pascal Apuwa delivered a letter and a copy of of the report Past Time for Remittance Justice to the CEO Carolyn Rogers and secured a future meeting to discuss steps that FICOM could take to rein in this rogue industry.

In Ottawa 25 members were joined by member of SEIU Canada local 2 and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers for a rally at the FCAC.  Leader Michelle Walrond delivered a letter to the FCAC calling on them to bring in regulations that meet the World Bank’s recommended rate cap of 5% on all remittance fee’s.

In Toronto members held a press conference on the steps of the Ontario Ministry of Finance after being refused entry to deliver a letter to the Minister of Finance’s office.  Global TV and  other press outlets covered the event.


Fast Forward Weekly: Bank fees 'killing' migrant workers

An international community-based, low-income advocacy organization is calling on the Canadian government to regulate the “predatory” remittance industry.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Canada (ACORN Canada) says the unregulated practise of charging up to 50 per cent for money transfers — a $400-billion industry according to the World Bank — is punishing migrant workers and immigrants, many of whom send money to their families back home.

“The remittance fee is killing us,” says Kay Bisnath, president of ACORN International. “Migrant workers’ and immigrants’ families depend on the money that their loved ones in Canada and around the world send to their homeland.”

Bisnath says banks and money transfer businesses can charge as much as 50 per cent in remittance fees. A migrant worker sending $100 to their family can be charged between $32 and $35 through the TD Bank, says Bisnath. “When you have to pay all these remittance fees, what are the loved ones left with?”

ACORN is calling for the Canadian government to limit the amount banks and financial institutions can charge to five per cent.
“We’re trying to end this predatory practise by the banks and financial agencies,” says Bisnath.

The original article is available at: