Letter to Finance Minister about Rural Bank Branch Closures

Hon. P. Martin P.C., M.P.
Minister of Finance,
Department of Finance,
21st floor,
140 O’Connor Street,
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0G5
Dear Minister Martin,
Please find enclosed a copy of our most recent report, Banking in Rural Canada: Ensuring that Rural Consumers Have Adequate Service.
The key finding of this report is that rural Canadians are losing access to banking service at an alarming rate. The measures contained in Bill C-38 are an important advance in consumer protection in the financial services sector, but unfortunately do not directly address the problem of rural bank branch closures. The Bill’s provisions are based on the recommendations made by the Task Force on the Future of the Canadian Financial Services Sector, but our report shows that since the Task Force released its report, the problem has worsened considerably.
We call upon you to renew the commitment you made in July 1998 that the federal government would not stand by while rural Canadians lose access to adequate banking services. Please carefully consider the five recommendations the report contains on how to address the problem of rural branch closures.
In particular, we would call your attention to the need to ensure that Canada Post’s activities in the banking sector accord with the public interest. We are concerned about Canada Post’s placements of white label ATMs in rural post offices. These ATMs offer minimal service at high fees, and may block the development of better banking services in these areas. We recommend that the federal government develop a consumer-friendly strategy on post office banking, and ensure that Canada Post operates within it.
Yours sincerely,
Angie Barrados
The Honourable Lyle Vanclief, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister Coordinating Rural Affairs
Andy Mitchell
Secretary of State (Rural Development)
(Federal Economic Development Initiative in Northern Ontario) Frank Swedlove
Executive Director, Financial Sector Review Group
Department of Finance