Fair Fees - Frais équitable
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.
For Edward Lantz, who lives on a disability income, the January fare hike means $11 less each month for groceries.
"We know what's going on in regards to people on low incomes. They're having a hard time deciding whether to pay the rent – it's either rent or food – and now this added cost of the TTC pass is coming into play," said Lantz, chair of the St. James Town chapter of ACORN, another of the riders' union organizers. (The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now advocates for moderate and low-income families.)
ACORN Canada Members will be holding protests in 4 cities across Canada in a coordinated day of protest with allies in 7 other countries calling for reform of the global remittance system.
The major players in the Global Remittance market like MoneyGram, Western Union, Scotia Bank, HSBC and others charge excessively high rates that hurt immigrant families here in Canada and keep much needed resources out of the developing world.