OTTAWA May 27 Canada's eight largest banks have
agreed to provide no-cost accounts to 7 million low-income
people, Finance Minister Joe Oliver said on Tuesday as part of
the Conservative government's consumer protection agenda ahead
of a 2015 election.
The banks will introduce voluntary guidelines in January
2015 allowing qualifying seniors as well as students and youth
to access the free accounts.
"Our government believes Canadians deserve to keep more of
their hard-earned money," Oliver said in a statement.
"I applaud the eight major Canadian banks for their
commitments to address the needs of consumers, and I look
forward to seeing these commitments become reality," he said.
Three of Canada's biggest banks have reported
bigger-than-expected profits in the second quarter, highlighting
the strength of the sector and wealth management profit growth,
despite signs that heavily indebted Canadian consumers are
slowing their borrowing.
The eight major banks are Royal Bank of Canada,
Toronto-Dominion Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia,
Bank of Montreal, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
, National Bank of Canada, Laurentian Bank
and Canadian Western Bank.
The no-cost accounts will have the same features as existing
low-cost accounts offered by the banks.
These now include at least 12 debit transactions per month,
up from eight previously, and no extra charges for deposits or
debit cards. The low-cost accounts cost C$4 ($3.70) per month.
The Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper
outlined a pro-consumer agenda in its budget in February,
touting measures aimed at lowering prices of mobile phone
services, banking services and narrowing the price gap between
retail goods in Canada and the United States, among others.
($1 = $1.09 Canadian)
(Reporting by Louise Egan; Editing by Marguerita Choy)