Ontario Class Action Settlements have been reached. Please read this notice.
ACORN Canada's comments on risks and consumer protection policy recommendations
Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2015-134
Review of basic telecommunications services
14 July 2015
ACORN Canada engaged me to determine an appropriate fee structure for payday lenders that would reduce the current very high rates while still allowing at least some of the companies to continue to operate. This fee structure should replace the current rule of 60% maximum interest contained in the Criminal Code, thus allowing mainstream financial institutions to compete in the short-term lending field legally.
The payday lending industry is unique in Canada. In most of the country, this billion- dollar business is completely unregulated. And it makes money by openly breaking the law against criminal interest rates. While the Criminal Code clearly states that annual effective interest rates must not exceed 60%, payday lenders typically charge between 300% - 900% and, not infrequently, more than 1,000%. And yet, in spite of this flagrant violation of the law and the harm done to those who regularly borrow from Money Mart and its less well-known competitors,
virtually nothing is being done to crack down on this rapidly growing industry. It’s estimated that there are more than 1,200 payday lending “stores” across Canada. Some have more reprehensible lending and collection practices than others. But all of them share the same core business practice of breaking the law every single day.
The practice of offering short-term payday loans against an individual’s paycheque (and/or other regular source of income such as pension cheques) has grown dramatically in the past few years and the industry is now estimated to be worth $2 billion a year in Canada in terms of loan volume. By comparison, a recent report about the industry in the United States, where payday lending originated, stated that the industry is worth US$44 billion annually in that country. ACORN and other organizations have raised concerns about the phenomenon of payday lending, citing extremely high rates of interest and lack of consumer awareness about the dangers of extended use of payday loans. The industry remains unregulated, and ACORN has called for legislative action to be taken.
Fair banking NOW!
In this report, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre sought to develop a framework for defining “affordability” of communications services in the digital age. Citizens need to be able to participate fully in society—and they need communication in order to do so. However, as communications services become increasingly central to the everyday activities of Canadians, are they affordable for lowincome Canadians, or do these consumers struggle to retain service? This report examines the way affordability is perceived by regulators, academic researchers, and corporate stakeholders, both in Canada and in other jurisdictions.
Alcohol overuse and poverty, each associated with premature death, often exist within disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Cheque cashing places (CCPs) may be opportunistically placed in disadvantaged neighbourhoods, where customers abound. This study explores whether neighbourhood density of CCPs and alcohol outlets are each related to premature mortality among adults.
This recent report from the Howard University Center on Race and Wealth uses 2012 Census data to identify the real and potential victims of payday lending, and pinpoints their geographic locations within the following target states__Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. "Based on the locations of these lenders, it is clear that they target minority and low-to middle income groups, and densely populated areas."
In 2013 AIC approached the Public Health Association of BC to assist it in a project aimed at increasing the knowledge of the social determinants of health related to substandard housing in an effort to have an impact on housing policy in BC.
The project has three goals:
1. Explore how substandard conditions in low moderate income rental buildings affect the health and well being of communities.
2. Create and sustain dialogue that fosters systemic change in the relationship between renters and policy makers by breaking down the barriers between the two.
3. Use research as a policy impact tool on housing policy in order to improve housing conditions and consequently improve the health and well being in communities.
The Housing Justice Program is a program unique to the Ottawa ACORN office, founded in 2011 to help tenants in need of assistance file applications to the Landlord and Tenant Board.
How do the rules for renting differ across Canada in terms of leases, security deposits, ending a tenancy, giving notice, rent control, etc.?
This guide identifies the main aspects of inclusionary housing that should be addressed in order to implement an effective program, and also the main principles and key practices that should be followed when addressing those aspects.
Through correspondence with the City of Ottawa, it was suggested to ACORN--by the individual responsible for administering polling station locations--that the city uses voter turnout rates as the primary criterion for where to locate polling stations. This is extremely problematic, for it goes against democratic principles for voting to be made more convenient to those who more regularly exercise that democratic right; instead, the more democratic criterion for the location of polling stations would, of course, be based on population density.
ACORN Canada’s free income tax sites are a staggering success, ensuring low income Canadians get every penny that is owed to them through the tax refunds, credits, and benefits.
In a 2012 report, the Metcalf Foundation developed a new definition of working poverty. This definition is based on income, rather than hours worked, and excludes students and those who do not live independently. Applying that definition, the authors then used data from the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID) and the Census to estimate how many people in Toronto were living in working poverty, where they were living and working, and to describe their family lives, education and age.
This brief report by the Wellesley Institute builds on the Metcalf analysis to consider the impact of working poverty on self-reported health. How do people who are working and poor (working poor) describe their health? How does their health compare with others who are poor but are not in the labour force (non-working poor)? How does their health compare with those who are able to work and support themselves and their families (working non-poor)? Finally, how have these three groups’ perceptions of their health changed over time?