Harper Government Secures Commitment from Largest Banks to Offer No-Cost Accounts for Financially Vulnerable Canadians

New guidelines offer no-cost accounts with the same features as low-cost accounts to wide range of consumers

May 27, 2014 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Finance

To protect consumers and save Canadians money, Finance Minister Joe Oliver today announced that voluntary commitments have been secured from Canada’s eight largest banks to enhance low-cost bank accounts and offer no-cost accounts with the same features as low-cost accounts to a wider range of eligible consumers. No-cost accounts will be available to youth, students, seniors qualifying for the Guaranteed Income Supplement, and Registered Disability Savings Plan beneficiaries. Banks have committed to bringing the voluntary guidelines into force by January 15, 2015.

This action fulfills a 2013 Speech from the Throne commitment to expand no-cost basic banking services and to end pay-to-pay policies, as well as an Economic Action Plan 2014 commitment to enhance access to basic banking services.

Quick Facts on the New Guidelines for Low-Cost and No-Cost Accounts

Minimum Features

  • A minimum of 12 debit transactions per month, at least 2 in-branch transactions per month (up from 8 transactions under the old guidelines);
  • Cheque-writing privileges;
  • No extra charge for deposits, debit cards, pre-authorized payment forms and monthly printed statements; and
  • Cheque image return or online cheque image viewing.

Fees:

  • Low-cost accounts for $4.00 per month.

Eligibility for no-cost account:

  • Youth, students, seniors qualifying for the Guaranteed Income Supplement, and Registered Disability Savings Plan beneficiaries will be eligible for a no-cost account.

Disclosure:

  • Use of clear and simple language to identify the features and extra service charges associated with low-cost and no-cost accounts, in line with the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s (FCAC) clear language guidelines and in a manner that does not mislead consumers;
  • Prominent display of information about the availability of low-cost and no-cost accounts in-branch and online; and
  • Posting of information in-branch and online informing consumers how to access the FCAC account selector tool to compare bank accounts. Banks will provide FCAC with up-to-date information on low-cost and no-cost accounts.

Quotes

“Canadians work hard for their money. Our Government believes Canadians deserve to keep more of their hard-earned money. That is why we are taking action to improve low-cost accounts and expand access to no-cost banking services for more than 7 million people—to protect consumers and save even more money for Canadians. I applaud the eight major Canadian banks for their commitments to address the needs of consumers, and I look forward to seeing these commitments become reality.”

- Joe Oliver, Minister of Finance

Additional Links

Media Contacts

Melissa Lantsman
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Finance
613-996-7861

David Barnabe
Media Relations
Department of Finance
613-996-8080

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Protecting Consumers. For details, see the PDF version that follows
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