In last year’s election platform, Liberals promised we would do a full review of Canada Post’s mandate.
One of the ideas that has been discussed is Postal Banking. I think it is a great idea that should be seriously considered. There are plenty of countries where it exists and works well – the UK, China, Japan, France, Italy, Switzerland, the Philippines and New Zealand. In fact, we used to have it Canada as well.
While plenty of people take internet banking and ATMs for granted, there are many communities across Canada that have no banks or are under-served by banks. A study by the CCPA showed that 1700 bank branches and hundreds of credit unions across Canada have closed since 1990.
Many rural and northern communities have no banks at all and many urban areas have also been abandoned. It makes banking dependent on having a car – which is a challenge not just for low-income families, but for many seniors. In Winnipeg Centre, there are ATMs that are locked after 6 and pay-day lenders are no substitute, especially when they may charge interest rates that are the equivalent to over 200% per year. There are also hundreds of First Nations across Canada and Manitoba with growing populations but only a few dozen reserves have banking services.
I have had a couple of meetings with CUPW about Postal Banking, and I think it is a great idea. It would strengthen Canada Post, provide new services to communities that need banking, and remove the need for residents to use pay-day lenders to cash cheques.
What do you think? Let me know whether this is an idea you support.