Inaction is a disadvantage for Credit Unions in Ontario
There’s so much to love about Credit Unions but when it comes to providing Credit Unions an equal playing field in Ontario, I can’t help but feel that the Ministry of Finance is putting them at a disadvantage by their inaction. The inaction I’m referring to relates to their apparent disregard for Unclaimed or Dormant credit union accounts. This inaction & disregard is not helpful to Credit Unions and it’s certainly not helpful to the client/members those Credit Unions serve.
Unclaimed Credit Union accounts can be hard to find
Unlike Unclaimed accounts held by federally regulated banks, Unclaimed Credit Union accounts in Ontario are hard to find unless you know the exact Credit Union you or a loved one dealt with. Federally regulated banks are required to remit unclaimed accounts that have not been active for 10+ years to the Bank of Canada where a searchable online database is available; that database currently includes $532 Million of such accounts. What would be the total value of Unclaimed Credit Union accounts in Ontario ? I’m pretty sure that no one inside the Ministry of Finance or outside has any clue. And that’s the problem.
The Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act, 1994 (20 years later)
One might assume that a similar system would be in place for unclaimed credit union accounts held in Ontario as there is for accounts held by federally regulated banks in Ontario. It’s 2014 after all and the Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act, 1994 set out the guidelines for Unclaimed or dormant accounts in that legislation. But…
Alas…that’s not the case. While the Ministry of Finance expects that Credit Unions are following the rules around notifications to dormant or unclaimed account holders, they have not yet gone as far as having those Credit Unions remit those accounts to the Ministry as intended.
Why has it taken 20 years to direct Ontario Credit Unions to where they need to send all of those unclaimed credit union accounts that have been forgotten?
I’ve asked the Ministry of Finance again recently this question. After much delay the Ministry responded but failed to answer that very question.
Here’s their reply
- The government recognizes the importance of ensuring that individuals who hold dormant deposit accounts at credit unions are aware of the status of their accounts and have access to the funds held in those accounts.
- The Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act, 1994 requires that credit unions provide notices to depositors whose accounts are dormant at regular intervals. For example, depositors must be notified 2 years and 5 years after a transaction has last taken place in the account or since the depositor last requested or acknowledged an account statement.
- We understand that credit unions have systems in place to ensure unclaimed deposits are properly monitored and that depositors are informed. If an account is dormant for more than 10 years, credit unions are required to remit the amount to the Minister of Finance when directed to do so.
- The Minister of Finance has not yet specified a date when the funds should be remitted to the government
We hope you will find the information provided useful.
Sadly, No. The information provided by the Ministry of Finance recently is not very helpful; not very helpful at all. And, most certainly, the inaction on the part of the Ministry of Finance with regards to Unclaimed Credit Union accounts is generally not helpful to Ontario Credit Unions or their members.
Let’s be clear: No one loses their hard earned/tax paid financial assets on purpose.
Ontario credit union members deserve to have one place to search & find their Unclaimed Credit Union accounts. Let’s get it done Ontario.