Delhi With the introduction of a member’s bill in the provincial parliament of Ontario by New Democratic Party MPP Jagmeet Singh from Toronto to amend the Consumer Act to put a 5% hard cap ceiling on remittances as requested by ACORN International and ACORN Canada as part of the Remittance Justice Campaign, support is lining up for the bill. The influential Toronto Sun editorialized in favor and the Ottawa Citizen joined in the call for support for the measure.
The Ottawa Citizen had an interesting take with a conservative twist:
The best way to drive costs down is to encourage competition. For some recipient countries, new players and technologies have led to better prices. For others, there’s an oligopoly and high prices. It seems unlikely that the most punitive fees will come down without regulation.
In 2009, the G8 vowed to bring global costs for remittances down to five per cent by 2014. Market-based approaches, such as greater transparency in fee structures, are crucial to this effort. But they haven’t brought fees down very far.
The Citizen got it. The standard business ideology may make predatory practices and glib assurances standard operating procedure, but when such rapaciousness cannot be impacted by fairness, it is time for legislation and regulation.
The Toronto Star started perhaps in a better place of understanding the importance of remittances and the cost structure, but they also made a powerful point: all parties needed to support the legislation. In other words this is too important to allow narrow partisanship to stand in the way and allow Money Gram and Western Union to fleece the pockets of migrant and immigrant workers.
No other province caps remittance fees, but the idea is no different in principle from limiting the interest charged on payday loans to prevent low-income earners from being gouged. Ontario did that in 2008.
All parties at Queen’s Park should back Singh’s bill. It would be an excellent step toward helping out some of the hardest working and most deserving people among us.
The same arguments could be made throughout the world, but for now the momentum is building in Canada where the leadership is, and the quick editorial support puts the pressure on for change!
Check out ACORN International for more information on remittance campaigns and how you can help.