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Phone: 604-522-8706



Epoch Times: Money Transfer Companies Soaking Immigrants

New Canadians and temporary foreign workers who send money to family members back in their home countries are being charged exorbitant transfer service fees, says a national non-profit that representslow- and moderate-income families.

Pascal Apuwa, a spokesperson for ACORN Canada, says fees levied on remittance payments—the moneyimmigrants send to family members in their country of origin—by moneytransfer organizations such as Western Union are as high as 20–25 percent.

“For every dollar I send, Western Union gets 20 cents,” Apuwa says, regarding his own experience in sending money to family in a rural village in Kenya.

“Western Union is in the small towns and rural areas, but banks are only found in the big cities. My mom is not in the city, she is in a rural area, so that’s why I have to use Western Union.”

In addition, transfer service companies sometimes charge hidden fees and fail to pay full value for exchange rates to poverty-stricken relatives collecting the funds, says Apuwa, a Canadian citizen.


BC Local News: ACORN Canada calls for cuts in money transfer fees

Since coming to Canada as a refugee in 2006, Pascal Apuwa has been sending money back home to his mother and sister in Kenya.

He sends what he can every month or two, as much as $300 when he was working, to $100 or $60 now that he's a student, all the while knowing the money helped put food on the table for his family.

Each time the Burnaby resident pays what he is told to by Western Union, which operates out of a Money Mart on Kingsway near Edmonds Street.

But after learning at an Acorn Canada meeting that the company takes a significant share of the money through service charges and unfavourable exchange rates, he's fighting back.

Apuwa, 30, led a protest at the Western Union office Wednesday to raise awareness of the issue.

The Tyee: Canadian immigrants getting fleeced by money transfer services

Canadian residents who use commercial money transfer services to send funds to family members back home are paying unreasonably high fees, says a non-profit that represents low-income families.

According to ACORN Canada spokesperson Pascal Apuwa, fees levied on international money transfers can be as high as 20 to 25 per cent.

"We are demanding that these agencies reduce their charges and we are asking the government to regulate them," says Apuwa.

According to a spokesperson for the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, there are currently no federal regulations on money transfer fees.

Remittance payments, the term used to describe money that foreign workers send back to their countries of origin, are not only vitally important for the individuals who receive them, says Apuwa, but also constitute a significant flow of funds to developing countries around the world.

Press Release: Western Union and Money Mart’s money transfer fees take 20% of money sent to drought-ravaged East Africa

For immediate release

New Canadians, temporary foreign workers, and others struggling to support loved ones abroad are fed up with the high cost of remittances and money transfers.

The ongoing famine in Somalia, and devastating drought in neighbouring Kenya has one person especially upset.  For Pascal Apuwa - a leader in the national campaign for Remittance Justice – these twin crises’s have made the call for reducing remittance rates ever more urgent.

“Like many new Canadians I send whatever I can afford to send back to my friends and family back in East Africa – and for every dollar I send Western Union gets 20 cents.  I send 100 dollars to help feed people I love, and a massive company keeps $20. That’s wrong, and they need to lower their charges immediately. At this point, because of the drought, that money they are taking from my pocket could save someone’s life!” Pascal Apuwa from Burnaby, BC explains.

Vancouver Sun: Rental housing crisis looms

When Tom Durrie moved to Vancouver in the 1960s, it was a dream come true for the California native. But these days, he has to work a job-and-a-half just to keep a roof over his head.

Durrie, 80, is a victim of Metro Vancouver's rental housing market, which gobbles up nearly half his paycheque every month and keeps reaching into his pocket for more every year.

Read the full story here.




BC ACORN Recap Following Community Change Summit

June saw the largest and longest migration of members in ACORN Canada's 7 year history.  A delegation of 12 British Columbia members flew to Ottawa to represent BC ACORN at ACORN Canada's Community Change Summit.

In true BC style, the delegation was loud and proud.  David Tate MC'd the opening plenary of the Summit, and joined other BC delegates in helping run workshops and sessions with members from around the country.

The highlight of the convention was BC members leading the march and the action at the Finance Ministry, demanding that the Deputy Minister of Finance "Come Down!" and meet with ACORN members regarding the outrageous and predatory rates on remittances and money transfers.  Pascal Apuwa kept the entire crowd lively and motivated with continuous rhythmic chants for over an hour.  After starting a chant of "Deputy Minister Come Down!', the call was heard 14 floors up in the high rise office building on O'Conner in Downtown Ottawa. The press secretary for the Deputy Minister came down, and ACORN Canada delivered its message of Remittance Regulations Now to the highest bureaucrat in Canada.


Greening British Columbia

ACORN Canada’s Green Connections program held a brainstorming session at the Guildford Recreation Centre in mid-June.  Members from ACORN Canada and volunteers with the Green Connection Program had a debrief session on how well the engagement on BC Hydro's Energy Savings Kits (ESK) went.  The consensus among the group was that their neighbours that they talked to wanted the free Energy Savings Kits, and wanted to do something to protect the environment.

The conversation then moved into a fascinating discussion on how tenants in North Surrey can become environmentally engaged in their communities. Great ideas came about in the discussion. Ideas ranging from composting and community gardening to recycling organic matter into electricity where discussed; and now comes the challenge of turning ideas into action!

The Province: Trying to flush out change for tenants

Tenants who endure long waits to deal with problems with landlords at the province's Residential Tenancy Branch in Burnaby -without benefit of a public washroom -got some help Wednesday when the advocacy group ACORN Canada delivered a makeshift portable toilet to the branch's Kingsway office.

ACORN said it wanted to make a point to branch executive director Suzanne Bell that she needs to provide facilities for clients.

"We thought we got our point across loud and clear," said ACORN spokesman John Anderson.

Original article available at: http://www.theprovince.com/business/Trying+flush+change+tenants/5063526/story.html


Burnaby NewsLeader: ACORN decries lack of public washrooms at Residential Tenancy Branch in Burnaby

Tenants wanting to file a dispute with their landlord are under stress as it is without having to worry about where the nearest public toilet is when visiting the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB).

That's the concern raised by ACORN Canada, an advocacy group for low and moderate income families.

The RTB at 5021 Kingsway in Burnaby is the sole full-service RTB office serving the entire Lower Mainland, said ACORN Canada member Veronica Coreas. Last fall she noticed there were no longer public washrooms available.

People now have to "go from door to door looking for a washroom" outside the building, Coreas said. Many nearby businesses are now restricting washroom access to paying customers, making the nearest public toilets about four blocks away at Metrotown mall.

It's simply unacceptable for a government office that requires significant waits to not have toilet facilities available, she said.

The issue prompted ACORN to hold a protest inside the RTB office Wednesday morning, complete with a mock up of a port-a-potty.

Burnaby gets organized

Our leaders in Burnaby have launched an organizing drive in their neighbourhood, we launched our Healthy Homes Campaign for a standards of maintenance bylaw.   In other words not much is new: We Organize!

First off, Veronica Coreas of Burnaby, BC has been diligently gathering 100's of names and numbers from people in Burnaby frustrated with the poor service and high fares that people get from Translink, BC's public transit system.   She plans to turn this issue into a fight over transit safety, access, and affordability and in the process build a local ACORN chapter in her neighbourhood, near Edmonds St. in Burnaby.  So far the Burnaby group has had two meetings at the Tommy Douglas Public Library in Burnaby and have planned for big actions on the transit issue later in the Summer.

Also in May, ‘Healthy Homes’ was the rallying cry on the corner of 108 Ave and King George Blvd in Surrey. ACORN Canada members in Surrey have been getting organized around tenant issues for years and have decided to take on the lack of enforceable standards for apartments in Canada's 12th largest city.

Many of you may be familiar with Toronto ACORN’s ongoing campaign to win landlord licensing and improved apartment inspections bylaws.  Well, those laws don't even exist in Surrey, but ACORN Canada members have set out to change that.   At the successful launch of the campaign our members showed that healthy homes are a right, not a privilege, and have since won commitments from a City Councilor in Surrey to begin the process of creating a ‘healthy homes bylaw’.

It all can't happen fast enough for ACORN Canada members.