There needs to be more financial protection for Canadians’ pocketbooks, says the federal NDP’s critic for Consumer Affairs, Small Business and Tourism.
MP Glenn Thibeault (NDP, Sudbury) made a stop in Thunder Bay on his cross-Canada Affordability Tour, holding a town hall meeting at the Brodie Street Resource Library on Saturday.
Throughout his travels across the country and interactions with Canadians Thibeault has found there is a desire to lower every day costs in which Canadians incur.
“Between gas prices and ATM fees people get very excited about talking about those things,” Thibeault said.
“It’s a cost to them they’re experiencing on a day to day basis. On average, when Canadians are spending over $200 just to get their money out of a bank machine, it’s an issue for them.”
The NDP has proposed cutting ATM fees to 50 cents per transaction. Thibeault said that each transaction costs the financial institution 36 cents, meaning they will still be making a profit.
MP John Rafferty (Thunder Bay-Rainy River) accompanied Thibeault for the meeting in the city as well as a similar one held in Fort Frances on Friday.
Specifically addressing the banks and ATM fees, Rafferty said it is doesn’t feel right to have to pay to access your own money.
“There’s a lot of money leaving a consumer’s pocket that should be staying there,” he said.
To try to put a cap on gas prices they are proposing to create an oil and gas ombudsman that would be charged with monitoring the industry and addressing allegations of collusion in regards to setting of prices.
Thibeault also took issue with the switch by many companies to begin charging customers to receive paper bills. He says they directly target seniors and those wary of using the internet for finances.
Depending on the number of bills, the cost of paper bills could be in the hundreds of dollars per year, he said.
However, the appetite for discussion seemed smaller in the city than what Thibeault has encountered in other sessions.
There was only one person in attendance for the first half hour, with the crowd growing to four people 45 minutes after the scheduled start.
Despite the lack of an audience, he is adamant that Canadians are genuinely concerned about the extra costs.
“When you talk to someone at the door about issues, these are the issues that are really driving them, especially when they want to talk about the next federal election,” Thibeault said.