Credit unions welcome improved rules | Local News

Regional credit unions and caisses populaires say new provincial regulations that came into effect this week should help them expand their services as they strive to attract a younger clientele.

“There’s no downside (to the changes), so that’s a good thing,” Lynne LeGros, general manager of Thunder Bay’s Bay Credit Union, said Thursday.

The changes, first introduced two years ago, “modernize” Ontario’s Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act so that banking institutions can offer customers additional services, including purchase of insurance.

Before the law was updated, credit unions and caisses populaires could only offer insurance related to loans and mortgages.

With the changes now in effect, credit unions and caisses populaires can now sell P&C insurance in their branches.

LeGros said it will appeal to customers looking to get banking and insurance services under one roof.

According to a provincial press release, “the new legislation will allow credit unions and caisses populaires to offer more options through expanded services to their members, including small businesses in the agriculture, ‘hospitality and tourism’.

The improved law “will allow credit unions to work in a modern financial services environment and grow to better support more Ontarians who continue to choose to do business with local credit unions,” Steve Bolton, CEO of Libro Credit Union, headquartered in London. , Ont., said in the press release.

According to the province, about 1.7 million Ontarians do their banking through credit unions or caisses populaires.

Unlike traditional banks, credit unions offer customers memberships that allow them to receive dividends and vote on the management of their organizations.

Credit unions are often more willing to lend money to northern Ontario businesses like forestry, simply because they appreciate and understand these sectors better, said Pierre Richard, regional manager of Caisse Alliance caisse popular in Hearst.

“It’s easier for us to assess their financial situation because we know what’s involved in cutting the wood and getting it to the mill,” Richard said.

Credit unions and caisses populaires are regulated by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario. Like traditional banks, they offer debit cards, credit cards and mortgages, Richard noted.

LeGros said credit unions are prevalent in the United States, so Ontario credit union members can be sure their cards will work while vacationing south of the border.

The Bay Credit Union opened its first branch in Lakehead in 1946. LeGros said many of the original customers who joined through their workplace died.

But she said there was growing interest among young people, including local entrepreneurs, “who are starting to know about us now”.

The two branches of Bay Credit Union in Thunder Bay have approximately 4,500 members combined.