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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OTTAWA – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today warned that the Finance Minister’s decision to allow competing consumer banking ombudsman services will harm Canadian banking customers. PIAC publicly posted its comments on the Department of Finance’s proposed Approved External Complaints Bodies (Banks and Authorized Foreign Banks) Regulations this week. PIAC opposes the regulations entirely and called upon the Finance Minister to withdraw them and instead require all banks to resolve consumer banking complaints with the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments.
PIAC’s comments noted that allowing for-profit entities offer competing banking dispute resolution services would result in services that will be neither independent of the banks hiring the service nor impartial between customers and the services’ real clients, the banks. Banks will have direct negotiating power in concluding agreements with dispute resolution services and can wholly remove business – or threaten to do so – in reaction to any arbitration decision.
“These regulations entrench a perceived and an actual conflict of interest between the banks and their customers,” stated John Lawford, Counsel for PIAC. “Consumers who are in a dispute with their bank cannot afford to play a game where the referee is paid by the other team.”