At the 2016 Kootenay Savings Credit Union AGM, Craig Gray, President of Kootenay Council of Senior Associates (KCOSA), spoke against the $2 fee for a paper copy of KSCU financial statements for seniors, as he did in 2015 to support Joyce Cook and her petition with 825 names of Trail seniors protesting this fee. KSCU’s Nancy Crockett, who confirmed a charge review would take place, promised Mr. Gray the results, however there was no further correspondence from Ms. Crockett.
When Mr. Gray brought up this issue once again this year, he and the membership in attendance were told that the KSCU had increased the amount of ‘free’ transactions to twenty instead of removing the $2 charge. However, a transaction is not limited to cheques or visits to the bank machine or a bank teller; it also includes deposits from Canada Pension, Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplement and GST rebates. For two low income seniors in a household, these alone would equal 10 transactions, half of the allowed monthly ‘free’ transactions. Once you pay your bills, the mortgage or rent, and a take out a few dollars for food, you have reached your maximum and pay for any other transaction individually. One senior told us that his transactions would have totaled over $40 most months under KSCU, but his bank does not charge for this and provides free cheques.
Considering that our seniors were the ones who built this great country, paid taxes their entire working lives, and were responsible for establishing Credit Unions as an alternative for the working man who were unable to get loans from the big banks, this is shabby treatment indeed. Have the Credit Unions forgotten what they have always stood for? Have they now become the BIG BANK like the other established banks? Most banks demonstrate greater respect for seniors and give them a break on their banking needs.
As reiterated by Mr. Gray, many seniors are not comfortable doing their banking on-line. They may not even have a computer, but that is no reason to punish a cohort of residents who built the credit unions in this province by charging them this extra cost. Perhaps $2.00 may not seem like a large amount to those who run the Credit Union, but for a senior on a fixed income this is yet one more cost to add to the myriad of others that chip away at the money they have for food, housing, prescriptions and other essentials. Local food banks and soup kitchens have told KCOSA that about 40% who use their services are low-income seniors with not enough money left at the end of the month for food.
We call for all who either are affected by these excessive charges, or have a loved one who is, to let their Credit Union know that this issue is unacceptable and changes need to be made. Together we can make a difference.