ACORN Members take on Big Banks, demand bank fees back!

Posted on July 13, 2021

ACORN members have led the fight for fair banking for years. Today, ACORN members held actions across 10 cities to demand mass refund of bank fees and an end to 2 tier banking. If you couldn’t join, send a quick letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Big Bank CEOs who made $12 million on an average last year! Click here

We are demanding that the banks:

  • Reimburse all fees to low-and-moderate income people during the period of the pandemic when Banks had access to the government’s $750 billion liquidity support. 
  • Lower the NSF fees from $45 to $10. 
  • End Bank Fees for all (not just the middle income and the rich). Requiring people to have a bank balance of $4,000 to avoid bank fees is discriminatory. 
  • End 2 Tier Banking!
  • Provide low/zero interest loans to low-and-moderate income people as part of your obligation to provide basic banking services to all people in Canada!
  • Stop financing predatory lenders like EasyFinancial. It is clear from EasyFinancial's annual report that RBC and BMO are buying EasyFinancial bonds (Debenture) to provide the company with needed cash.
  • Support a nationalised credit rating system. Non-transparent criteria to determine a person's “risk” or credit score and then charging fees/and denying service based on this is discriminatory and legitimises the legacy of structural discrimination of equity seeking groups including racialized people, people with disabilities, indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) people, women and LGBTQ2S.

Last month saw the Big 6 Banks second quarter 2021 reports making record profit - BMO and RBC doubled their profits since last year and CIBC quadrupled! They even got support from the federal government, but nothing stopped them to hike fees and charge exorbitant NSF fees. Some members have received an NSF Fee as high as $200.

The Big Banks are gouging, squeezing low-to-moderate income people further, forcing ACORN members to rely on predatory lenders.

Here’s a brief account of our actions. Join us to end 2 tier banking, fair banking for all!

Halifax: Members did a bank walking tour, starting at CIBC and did a loop around the block to RBC, TD, HSBC, Scotiabank (one of the originals!), and BMO. We delivered letters to all but BMO who seemed to know we were coming. Lots of good feedback from branch managers. “We’re here with ACORN!” “Oh we know who you are” was a common line. 

Hamilton: ACORN members petitioned outside RBC in downtown Hamilton today talking to RBC customers and people walking by about how the banks are gouging low-and-moderate income people! Members got petitions signed and fliered King St.

London: Members targeted RBC and NBC in London. Terence, the NDP MPP in London North Centre also came out in support! We delivered letters to both National Bank and RBC about 5 security officers from both RBC and National Bank were out and about monitoring us (typical scare tactics!). RBC even closed their security gate where the bank manager stood in front so we couldn't even walk in to deliver the letter but we did hand it over to him. There were weather issues in London (severe thunderstorm warning) but great to have the folks who could make it out! 

Moncton: Moncton members targeted the CIBC bank. The branch manager said the CEO was very well aware of ACORN’s campaign. Also said the NSF’s made sense cause people should have money in their accounts “what else are they supposed to do!?!?”  Not charge NSF Fees! Peter, amazing ACORN member, got the delivery of ACORN flags and ACORN T shirts in time for the action!  

Ottawa: Ottawa had 28 members march to the downtown branches of the 7 biggest banks! It was an EPIC march led by powerhouse leaders Marie Lourdes Garnier & Bader Abu Zahra on the chants, and new Vanier ACORN member Evan Bury who killed it running his first action. All the bank managers took our letter except for RBC and National Bank who called security and barred us from entering the branch. Members didn't care - they just shouted louder! Lots of honks and support from the streets, members left super fired up and Evan wrapped up the action by encouraging everyone to call their MP in support of the campaign. 

Peel: Peel ACORN members targeted BMO at Square One.  New member Becca came to their first action and our great leader Tanya led us in a march into the building to deliver our demands to the bank manager who was rather shellshocked. Members protested, handed out flyers, and petitioned outside the BMO.

Toronto: 40 ACORN members from across Toronto came down to the financial capital of Canada for the Fair Banking National Day of Action. Members marched along King Street towards Bay and stormed into Scotiabank's headquarters, where we occupied the lobby and Marva Burnett, our National President, delivered a speech with our demands. Cops threatened to arrest us, but we stayed until our demands were read and our letter was delivered.

Next members marched to CIBC's headquarters, which had been shut down after they saw us coming. We rallied outside, and members spoke about CIBC's unfair practices which discriminate against low-income people. Suze Morrison, and Brian Chang from the Provincial and Federal NDP spoke out in support, and we delivered our letter. Next up - TD Bank's headquarters across the street. We were blocked again, at this point all the banks had shut down out of fear of ACORN, but members spoke about dozens of fees they had been charged during COVID. TD received the coveted 'Greedy' award for being so greedy and making so much profit by robbing low-income people through high fees.

Last stop - BMO - Marcia Stone, from Weston ACORN, pointed out BMO had profited from investing in the predatory lender Easy Financial. So, BMO received the 'Pandemic Profiteer' award. Afterwards, members took over the intersection of King & Bay in the heart of the financial district to keep the banks shut down until they gave us our fees back. 

During the debrief members agreed more action would be needed, and we'll keep up the pressure. Local actions coming up to win back the NSF fees charged to our members from their banks during COVID.

Victoria: Members handed out a ton of fliers as well as three demand letters targeting TD, RBC, and Scotia Bank. Both TD Bank and RBC did not let the members in, but we managed to get the letters to their managers through the door. Scotia Bank on the other hand let us walk up the reception desk and our member Albertine got to meet the branch's assistant manager who promised to hand the letter off the branch manager once they were done their meeting.

We also did actions in Surrey and Montreal.

PRESS

The Bend: ACORN Holds Peaceful Protest Over Banking Fees

CTV News: Canadian banks urged to do more to lower fees and credit card interest rates

 

 

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