Campaigners fight high concentration of payday lending points in Vanier

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When chronic illness forced Robbie McCall to quit his job as a heavy equipment operator, he was living comfortably in a three-bedroom house with a finished basement.

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Her only daughter, now an adult, attended a private school.

McCall, 47, had been a client of his local bank since he was seven, almost 40 years old. He had his mortgage with them and had used bank loans to pay for his vehicles.

He owed $ 2,100 on his credit card and had overdraft protection.

But after his illness, his regular paychecks turned into welfare and disability checks, so he decided to explain his situation to the bank.

“I thought it was better to be honest with them because I wanted to stay in good standing,” he said.

In no time, he says the bank canceled his credit card and the first time he went over his overdraft limit, it canceled his overdraft protection. Importantly, they imposed a 10-day hold on personal checks he received from family and friends.

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Angry and in need of quick cash to pay his bills, he turned to one of the many payday loan outlets near his home in Vanier. He says they charged an $ 18 fee to cash his Ontario government checks and gave him separate loans of $ 100.

At one point, he said the fast-cash operator charged him $ 193 in interest and fees on a $ 300 loan.

Two years later, McCall’s bank had reclaimed his house and he was living in a room at the back of a Montreal strip club. He said he was definitely broke, was on medication for depression and was unable to pay the money he owed.

McCall’s story – and its variations – will be highlighted Tuesday at a forum hosted by the Ottawa chapter of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), which uses the proliferation of loan points on Salary on Montreal Road in Vanier to lobby municipal and provincial regulations on an industry they support preying on the poorest and most vulnerable members of society.

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ACORN will also use a 30-page study project from lawyer and researcher Peter Kucherepa to help make their case.

According to the Kucherepa study, there are 16 payday outlets in Vanier – about one per 1,000 Vanier residents – and eight of them are within 1,000 meters of each other on Montreal Road . This is 16 times the provincial average and 24 times the national average.

Kucherepa suggests imposing the distance from one payday loan outlet to another, requiring them to display an annual fee (up to 600%) on their storefronts and pay a business license fee to the city. .

The Criminal Code of Canada caps annual interest rates at 60 percent, but provincially regulated payday loans are allowed up to 600 percent, except in Quebec where it is 35 percent, which effectively makes unprofitable operating the payday companies out there.

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“Payday loan companies often argue that their primary use is to alleviate local economic hardship by providing short-term funding,” Kucherepa writes. “However, the financing services offered, at interest rates that exceed the criminal rate by a multiple of 10, often result in severe economic shock, lasting poverty, and reckless disregard for the health and safety of the community. . “

Vanier area city councilors Mathieu Fleury – who consulted on the report – and Tobi Nussbaum are both pushing for tighter regulations. They see the concentration of points of sale on Montreal Road as an obstacle to the development of a mix of businesses in downtown Vanier.

“Payday lending operations exploit the vulnerability of people who do not have access to traditional banking services or who are in such dire financial straits that the immediacy of being able to cash a check is overwhelming,” Nussbaum said.

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“I’m interested in whether we can just restrict their use,” he said. “For example, you could say that on a traditional main street, a payday loan transaction is not a permitted use under zoning by law.

“Not only are there negative social implications,” he added, “but they are a plague on a main street trying to encourage a disparate array of small businesses.”

Fleury agrees and says regular banks also have a social responsibility to meet the needs of low-income Canadians.

“People who turn to payday loan services are at risk,” he said. “There has to be a better way for these people to access their own hard-earned money. Banks should not be withholding funds.

Ria Rinne, president of the Vanier sector of ACORN, sees the troubleshooting industry as “predatory – draining income from low-income communities.”

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“They put desperate people in a debt trap because of the interest charges on their products,” she said. “They cause and maintain poverty.

“It’s the allure of easy money,” she added. “They won’t tell you everything in advance and won’t tell you what the charges are. Although it may seem like a small amount at first, it is a snowball effect – the amount of interest keeps increasing.

Robbie McCall said after two years of dealing with payday operators, his family had helped him pay his bills on the promise that he would never borrow at outlets again.

“It was like a monster out of control,” he said. “I was so embarrassed – my pride didn’t allow me to tell anyone about it. Do you know that ad where a guy jumps on your back to symbolize debt? Well that’s exactly how I felt. It crushed me.

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A spokesperson for the Canadian Payday Loans Association did not respond to the citizen’s request for an interview.

McCall, who for the past year has said he was able to move into a one-bedroom apartment and improve his financial situation slightly, is warning anyone he meets to stay away from payday loan providers.

“Never, never, never,” he said. “Underline it and capitalize it in bold. You have to find a better way. ”

Tuesday’s ACORN meeting is at the Richelieu-Vanier Community Center, 300 des Pères-Blancs from 6 p.m.

More information on the payday loan industry: http://www.cpla-acps.ca/english/medialegislation.php

For advice: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada http://www.fcac-acfc.gc.ca (search payday loans)

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twitter.com/chrisicobb

PAYDAY LOAN FACTS

  • First points of sale opened in Canada: 1996.
  • Estimated revenue generated by Canadian payday loan agencies: $ 2.5 billion per year.
  • Estimated number of Canadian payday clients: 1.8-2.5 million.
  • Number of licensed payday lenders in Ontario: 800.
  • Number of Starbucks outlets: 400.
  • Number of McDonald’s: 500.
  • Cost of using a payday loan for one year: 500% more.
  • Loan fee of $ 100 for 26 two-week periods: $ 546.00.
  • Percentage of borrowers surveyed who said they understand the fee structure: 7.
  • Estimated percentage of Ontarians who used payday loans in the past year: 3.
  • Percentage having taken out a loan: 30
  • Percentage having taken out 10 or more loans: 18.
  • Number of complaints about collection agencies to the Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services: 3,000.

Source: Credit Canada Debt Solutions.

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About Bernice D. Brewer

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