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In Canada, 3 per cent of the population – about one million people – are “unbanked,” meaning they do not have a relationship with a mainstream financial institution, according to a 2016 report by Acorn Canada and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
A further 15 per cent – or roughly five million Canadians – are what the report calls “underbanked,” people with a bank account but no credit, people unable to afford fees or high interest rates linked to products for low-income borrowers or those who live in a neighbourhood that does not have a bank branch.
Donna Borden, spokeswoman for Acorn’s Fair Banking campaign, says these people are often seniors, people on disability benefits, newcomers and people with mental-health issues, as well as those without a permanent address or government identification. For street-involved people who do have a bank account, holding onto the cards necessary to access money can be difficult.
The average share of income spent on shelter was more than 55 per cent, while more than 43 per cent of participants reported they were falling behind in meeting their basic financial obligations.