#2 - 630B Carnarvon St., New Westminster BC V3M 1E5
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Last month Burnaby ACORN continued to take the leadership role in the campaign to win regulation of remittance providers like Western Union. Lead by dynamic leaders from Burnaby, we’ve put Western Union and regulators on notice that working families are demanding remittance justice.
In Pascal Apuwa's global village, parts of the neighbourhood aren't too friendly.
The Burnaby resident immigrated to Canada in 2006 and regularly transfers money back to his relatives in drought-ravaged western Kenya. But the 20-per-cent-plus fees he pays to transfer agents are cutting into Apuwa's ability to support his family.
Read the full story here.
As a community social services student at Douglas College, Burnaby resident Pascal Apuwa doesn't have a lot of extra money to throw around.
The little extra he does have, he sends home to his family in Korogocho, Kenya.
But the fees on remittances - money transferred from someone in one country to another - are cutting into the amount his family receives, he said.
"When I send money back home, I want it to go to helping the people," Apuwa said in a phone interview.
Apuwa headed a demonstration by Acorn Canada on July 27 outside the Money Mart at 7088 Kingsway, to protest the fees that Western Union charges on sending remittances overseas.
Money Mart acts as an agent for Western Union. The group presented a letter for Western Union's CEO to the agent there, Apuwa said.
New Canadians and temporary foreign workers who send money to family members back in their home countries are being charged exorbitant transfer service fees, says a national non-profit that representslow- and moderate-income families.
Pascal Apuwa, a spokesperson for ACORN Canada, says fees levied on remittance payments—the moneyimmigrants send to family members in their country of origin—by moneytransfer organizations such as Western Union are as high as 20–25 percent.
“For every dollar I send, Western Union gets 20 cents,” Apuwa says, regarding his own experience in sending money to family in a rural village in Kenya.
“Western Union is in the small towns and rural areas, but banks are only found in the big cities. My mom is not in the city, she is in a rural area, so that’s why I have to use Western Union.”
In addition, transfer service companies sometimes charge hidden fees and fail to pay full value for exchange rates to poverty-stricken relatives collecting the funds, says Apuwa, a Canadian citizen.
Since coming to Canada as a refugee in 2006, Pascal Apuwa has been sending money back home to his mother and sister in Kenya.
He sends what he can every month or two, as much as $300 when he was working, to $100 or $60 now that he's a student, all the while knowing the money helped put food on the table for his family.
Each time the Burnaby resident pays what he is told to by Western Union, which operates out of a Money Mart on Kingsway near Edmonds Street.
But after learning at an Acorn Canada meeting that the company takes a significant share of the money through service charges and unfavourable exchange rates, he's fighting back.
Apuwa, 30, led a protest at the Western Union office Wednesday to raise awareness of the issue.
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.
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.
When Tom Durrie moved to Vancouver in the 1960s, it was a dream come true for the California native. But these days, he has to work a job-and-a-half just to keep a roof over his head.
Durrie, 80, is a victim of Metro Vancouver's rental housing market, which gobbles up nearly half his paycheque every month and keeps reaching into his pocket for more every year.
Read the full story here.
June saw the largest and longest migration of members in ACORN Canada's 7 year history. A delegation of 12 British Columbia members flew to Ottawa to represent BC ACORN at ACORN Canada's Community Change Summit.
In true BC style, the delegation was loud and proud. David Tate MC'd the opening plenary of the Summit, and joined other BC delegates in helping run workshops and sessions with members from around the country.
The highlight of the convention was BC members leading the march and the action at the Finance Ministry, demanding that the Deputy Minister of Finance "Come Down!" and meet with ACORN members regarding the outrageous and predatory rates on remittances and money transfers. Pascal Apuwa kept the entire crowd lively and motivated with continuous rhythmic chants for over an hour. After starting a chant of "Deputy Minister Come Down!', the call was heard 14 floors up in the high rise office building on O'Conner in Downtown Ottawa. The press secretary for the Deputy Minister came down, and ACORN Canada delivered its message of Remittance Regulations Now to the highest bureaucrat in Canada.