On May 27, I participated in a community forum in Kitchener-Waterloo aimed at increasing the financial inclusion for those who are the most financially vulnerable. It was a gathering of representatives mostly from banks, credit unions and social agencies.
As a licensed insolvency trustee, I interact on a daily basis with individuals who are financially vulnerable. I have a specific role – dealing with the debts. It was very educational for me to hear other professionals talk about some of the other daily challenges faced by those same people. Here is a report of the day’s events by Maureen Brosnahan of CBC News.
Two things I want to bring to your attention.
- First, Ms. Brosnahan describes the circumstances of specific individuals from Waterloo Region. These and others were shared at the forum. The most compelling quote comes from Jackie Baker, commenting on being raised in a low income family and now relying herself on social assistance, “I saw money equal power and I had none and that’s just how I felt.”
- Second, take a look at the reader comments at the bottom of Ms. Brosnahan’s article. Comments like, “Why anyone pays banking fees is beyond me” show the lack of sensitivity and understanding that proves the need for further discussion about the challenges facing low income households.
On a different but similar note, May 27 was also the day that Canada’s big banks made a commitment to create more low-cost and no-fee bank accounts. Put these two events together, and I am encouraged about the possibility of social and economic change. It is natural to be skeptical that profit-focused banks can have any altruistic tendencies. I am choosing to focus on the positive.