New Orleans After a year of stirring the pot in one country after another about the crime of predatory price gouging of migrant and immigrant workers through ACORN International’s Remittance Justice Campaign and our multiple reports exposing these abuses, ACORN Canada has led the way to the next step having secured a sponsor for legislation that would finally put a hard cap on money transfer organizations and the rates they charge. A member’s bill is being introduced today in Toronto at Queen’s Park in the Provincial Parliament by NDP’s rising star, MPP Jagmeet Singh (Bramalea-Gore-Malton).
Simply put, the text of the bill indicates that it would amend the Consumer Protection Act in Ontario to require that MTO’s like Western Union, MoneyGram, and a host of others cannot exceed 5% in charges for remittances. A Toronto Star article yesterday pictured one of the ACORN members, Amadeo Flores, originally from Spain, and Rohan Jagroo from Trinidad, and detailed the thousands of dollars that they were fleeced over many years of wiring money to friends and families in their home countries. In their cases the charges to these established routes were more than 10%, though ACORN International studies have shown that the full package usually exceeds 20%.
Nonetheless the G-8, including Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, and others, joined by the World Bank, have called for a cap on the cost of such transfers of only 5% and that is what the Ontario legislation is demanding. Many banks have even higher rates than some of the MTO’s but those are national banking matters subject to federal legislation in countries like Canada and the United States, so we will continue pushing on those fronts.
Similar legislation is planned for British Columbia and later in the year for Honduras. ACORN Italy has this on its agenda for later in the year as well. With research support from the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, we are deepening our survey, research, and policy initiative currently in Mexico with the help of a full-time summer researcher on the ground with ACORN Mexico in la Neza right now.
What’s at stake? Billions that could dwarf the collective foreign aid budgets of all the developed countries back to the developing world.
This campaign is entering a new and important stage and building momentum for huge changes that could make an amazing difference to lower income families and their communities around the world.