Payday Lending & Remittances

Learn more about ACORN Canada's groundbreaking campaigns regulate payday lending and international remittances and money transfers.

New Report on Remittances: Voting in a Rigged Election

Today we’re releasing a new report as part of a global effort to achieve transparency and regulation of remittance fees.

This issue is a vital one for Canadian families, especially immigrants, migrant workers and new Canadians, who pay huge fees on the money they send to their families back home.

"Voting with Their Money in a Rigged Election," is the third report in a series from ACORN Canada and ACORN International looking at this unregulated and often unaccountable industry. Click to Download the .PDF of Voting in a Rigged Election

Message to the Department of Finance: Regulate Remittances & Money Transfers Now!

As a closing of the National Community Change Summit, 60 ACORN Canada members came together at an action in front of the Ministry of Finance in Ottawa to draw the Deputy Minister of Finance’s attention to the fees and interest being taken by big banks and money transfer organizations (MTOs) like Western Union when processing remittances.

In fact, hard-working Canadians trying to support families and loved ones abroad paid more in fees and interest than the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) spends in foreign aid each year.  ACORN Canada is calling on the Federal Government to bring in new regulations consistent with the World Bank’s suggested 5% cap on fees.

The action was covered by the Ottawa Citizen, CBC Ottawa, Metro Ottawa and others, and led to securing a commitment from the Deputy Minister to investigate the issue and agree to a follow up meeting with ACORN Canada leaders.

Ottawa Citizen: Group seeks cap on money-transfer fees

From the Ottawa Citizen:

Pascal Apuwa, 38, moved to Canada six years ago from a small village in Kenya. Like many foreign-born Canadians he sends money back to his family in Africa every month. But Apuwa says he's tired of paying the fees money transfer organizations, such as Western Union, place on remittance payments.

He and members of the organization ACORN [Canada], the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, [Canada] are asking federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to cap the fees money transfer organizations can place on remittance payments at five per cent. The group is holding a protest outside the Bank of Canada at 10: 30 a.m. today.

"There is no transparent explanation why it costs me $25 to send $100 to my family in Kenya," Apuwa said. "The only reason I've found is that they think it's all right to pull profits from my family living in a slum in Africa."

According to Statistics Canada, 41 per cent of foreign-born residents living in Canada send money back to their families abroad. Apuwa says he is sometimes charged as much as 16 per cent to send money back home and says there are often additional unexplained charges his family must pay in order to collect the money in Africa. "I feel so bad about it," he said. "This is not the way to help people, I want justice to be done here."

You can find the original article at:

Actions nationwide to regulate remittance transfers

March 3, 2011 - Yesterday ACORN Canada members from 20 chapters nationwide called on the Provincial Governments and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) to take immediate steps to regulate the remittance industry in Canada.  Remittance providers have been shown to charge as much as $50 in fees for a simple $100 remittance from Canada to a country in the developing world.

In Metro Vancouver ACORN Canada members marched to the headquarters of the Financial Institutions Commission (FICOM) in Surrey and held a rally.  Leader Pascal Apuwa delivered a letter and a copy of of the report Past Time for Remittance Justice to the CEO Carolyn Rogers and secured a future meeting to discuss steps that FICOM could take to rein in this rogue industry.

In Ottawa 25 members were joined by member of SEIU Canada local 2 and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers for a rally at the FCAC.  Leader Michelle Walrond delivered a letter to the FCAC calling on them to bring in regulations that meet the World Bank’s recommended rate cap of 5% on all remittance fee’s.

In Toronto members held a press conference on the steps of the Ontario Ministry of Finance after being refused entry to deliver a letter to the Minister of Finance’s office.  Global TV and  other press outlets covered the event.


Fast Forward Weekly: Bank fees 'killing' migrant workers

An international community-based, low-income advocacy organization is calling on the Canadian government to regulate the “predatory” remittance industry.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Canada (ACORN Canada) says the unregulated practise of charging up to 50 per cent for money transfers — a $400-billion industry according to the World Bank — is punishing migrant workers and immigrants, many of whom send money to their families back home.

“The remittance fee is killing us,” says Kay Bisnath, president of ACORN International. “Migrant workers’ and immigrants’ families depend on the money that their loved ones in Canada and around the world send to their homeland.”

Bisnath says banks and money transfer businesses can charge as much as 50 per cent in remittance fees. A migrant worker sending $100 to their family can be charged between $32 and $35 through the TD Bank, says Bisnath. “When you have to pay all these remittance fees, what are the loved ones left with?”

ACORN is calling for the Canadian government to limit the amount banks and financial institutions can charge to five per cent.
“We’re trying to end this predatory practise by the banks and financial agencies,” says Bisnath.

The original article is available at:

Toronto Star: Immigrants gouged on money transfers

December 10th, 2010 by Carol Goar in the Toronto Star

They fought to get their landlords to clean up their cockroach-infested apartments and won. They fought to get payday lenders to lower their astronomical borrowing rates and won. Now ACORN Canada, a network of low-income Canadians, is embarking on its most ambitious project.

It has just launched a campaign to get North American banks to reduce the “predatory” fees they charge immigrants and migrant workers to transfer money to their families back home.

ACORN made its first move Monday. It released a report showing the rates charged by Canada’s chartered banks, their American counterparts and two money-transfer companies to send $100 to various destinations.

The figures were startling. Fees ranged from $3.70 to $66.25 (not including the pickup charges usually imposed at the receiving end).

Here is a sample, using a transfer of $100 from Toronto to Mexico:

• MoneyGram, which has the lowest fees, charges between $3 and $10 (depending on the service and destination) plus an exchange rate fee of 70 cents for a maximum total of $10.70.